GSK grows in Asia vacc market

By Gareth Macdonald

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Gsk Influenza

UK drug major GSK has had a busy week in the Asia, signing an influenza vaccine manufacturing deal with China’s Shenzhen Neptunus Interlong Bio-Technique just days after it opened a new S$600m (EUR294m) production facility in Singapore.

The Shenzhen joint-venture (JV), which will see GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) pay $34m for a 40 per cent share, will develop and manufacture influenza vaccines, both seasonal and pandemic, for the Chinese, Hong Kong and Macau markets.

Under the terms of the agreement GSK, which plans to acquire a controlling stake in the business over the next two years, will make its established adjuvant technologies available to Shenzhen for further R&D and commercial vaccine manufacture.

Jean Stephenne, president and general manager of GSK Biologicals, said the alliance “enables GSK to build new vaccines capability in a critical emerging market such as China​.”

Stephenne highlighted the improved access to locally-circulating influenza virus antigens as one of the key benefits the partnership with Shenzhen will provide.

With the World Health Organization (WHO) poised to declare H1N1 “swine flu” a pandemic, GSK’s renewed focus on vaccine production for markets in one of the world’s populous regions is well timed.

WestLB analyst Simon Mather told Reuters​ that the deal is a further example of GSK CEO Andrew Witty’s desire to grow in emerging markets. In May, the firm bought a 16 per cent stake in Africa’s largest generics firm Aspen Pharmacare.

Singapore pneumococcal vacc plant

The day before announcing the China JV GSK showcased a new S$600m vaccine production facility in neighbouring Singapore.

The 85,000 sq m plant, which is located in the Tuas Business Park in the west of the country, will be used to make GSK’s pneumococcal conjugate vaccine when fully operational in 2011.

Company vice president Emmanuel Amory said Singapore had been chosen as the site for GSK’s first vaccine plant in Asia due to the highly skilled local workforce, which is a result of the government’s decade long policy of developing biologics expertise.

Singapore’s science talent pool has been attracting many major Pharma industry players in recent years with Bayer, Schering-Plough and Takeda all expanding their operations in the country.

More recently Swiss biomedical science group Lonza unveiled plans to build on its Singaporean presence and set up a CHF30m (€19.7m) cell therapy manufacturing plant in the country.

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