Spain to build its first vaccine plant

By Nick Taylor

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Novavax Influenza Vaccine

The Spanish Ministry of Health is leading a €60m ($84.9m) programme that will build the country’s first vaccine production facility and use Novavax’s recombinant virus-like-particle (VLP) technology.

By establishing the programme Spain believes it will be able to provide vaccines for the entire population and is developing pandemic and seasonal variants.

ROVI Pharmaceuticals is collaborating with the health ministry on the project and has exclusive license to use Novavax’s VLP technology in commercialising vaccines in Spain and Portugal. It also has a non-exclusive license for the rest of Europe.

The establishment of a relationship Novavax, which has become increasingly prominent during the H1N1 outbreak, suggests that Spain is keen to equip itself against a pandemic.

Novavax has a research agreement with the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) to evaluate its H1N1 but Rahul Singhvi, CEO of Novavax, believes VLP offer numerous benefits in treating seasonal influenza.

Singhvi explained: “This influenza vaccine supply solution consisting of our VLP technology and portable manufacturing avoids the use of chicken eggs, creates vaccines for emerging strains faster, and promises less expensive, in-border manufacturing capacity​.”

This technology will be used at the €20m vaccine plant that ROVI, with support from the state of Andalucía, will build in Granada, Spain. The plant is predicted to be operational in 2012.

By that time ROVI hopes that it will have gained European marketing authorisation for its vaccine. A non-profit foundation, jointly sponsored by ROVI and the Spanish government, is being established to support Phase III development of the vaccine.

The Spanish authorities are putting forward a €25m credit line to fund the foundation and support development of the vaccine.

Financial boost for Novavax

As part of the deal ROVI is making a $3m equity investment in Novavax. The investment and earnings from the deal will be a welcome boost for Novavax, which posted a loss of $8.3m in Q1 and had cash reserves of $25.6m.

Novavax’s share price spiked by 30 per cent when the deal was announced, with the cash injection and broadening of the company’s geographical reach being welcomed by investors.

The deal is Novavax’s first move into Europe and follows the joint venture with Cadila Pharmaceuticals in India.

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