Emergent BioSolutions doubles capacity at Baltimore plant

Emergent BioSolutions is one of the vaccine producers that the federal government can tap in case of a virus pandemic, and now it has doubled the size of one of its manufacturing and development facilities with funding help from the feds.

The company has completed an $80 million expansion that has built out the Center for Innovation in Advanced Development and Manufacturing in Baltimore to 112,000 square feet, it said in an email. The government covered 60% of the cost. Emergent added laboratory and office space as well as manufacturing capacity, which is equipped with disposable technology. The addition can house four 3,500-liter reactors. The company currently has 72 employees at the site.

The $220 million facility was built in 2012, with financial support from Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) to produce flu vaccines. While Emergent can use the facility for some of its own commercial work, as it has with its development of an Ebola vaccine candidate, its agreement with the feds is to develop and produce Ebola and Marburg therapeutics and a Zika vaccine there.

The drug and vaccine developer is also planning a $30 million expansion of a fill-finish facility that is also in Baltimore, and expects to add 100 employees over the next five years to the 170 currently working there, The Baltimore Sun reported.

Now based in Gaithersburg, Maryland, Emergent got its start in Michigan in 1998 as a small-batch producer of anthrax vaccine for the government and recently received a $100 million order to deliver more doses of its BioThrax, the only U.S. approved anthrax vaccine.

It also is developing a new version of the shot that adds the novel adjuvant CPG 7909, and Emergent has a $1.5 billion contract to develop and manufacture that for the government. Emergent has said the FDA could approve the new vaccine for emergency use next year, with deliveries to start in 2019.

An Emergent spokesperson said the anthrax vaccine is manufactured at its facility in Lansing, Michigan.