Moderna taps Thermo Fisher for 15-year mRNA production pact for COVID vaccines and more

In the third year of the pandemic, mRNA specialist Moderna is marshaling one of its tried-and-true manufacturing partners to lock up production of its COVID shot for years to come.

Moderna and Thermo Fisher Scientific have forged a manufacturing pact to shore up production of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine Spikevax—plus the biotech’s other investigational mRNA products—over the next 15 years, the partners said Wednesday.

Under the expanded agreement, Thermo Fisher will pledge dedicated capacity for a range of aseptic fill-finish services, including dry powder and liquid filling. Thermo Fisher will also be on deck to provide inspection, labeling and final packaging services, the companies said in a release.

Thermo Fisher has already worked with Moderna on both clinical research and contract manufacturing, including the swift scale-up of aseptic fill-finish services and packaging of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine.

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Moderna tapped Thermo Fisher for more manufacturing duties back in June. At the time, the biotech recruited the contract manufacturer to tackle fill-finish, labeling and packaging duties for its COVID-19 vaccine from Thermo Fisher’s site in Greenville, North Carolina.

The agreement was intended to support production of “hundreds of millions of doses,” with manufacturing work pegged to kick off in 2021’s third quarter, Moderna said at the time.

At that point, Thermo Fisher had already been supplying Moderna with raw materials for its COVID-19 vaccine, Juan Andres, Moderna’s chief technical operations and quality officer, told Fierce Pharma last year.

Details on this week's agreement were slim. In a statement, Thermo Fisher’s chief operating officer Michel Lagarde said the deal would see Moderna “further leverage [Thermo Fisher’s] scale and depth of capabilities to continue to transform its mRNA platform and bring new breakthrough medicines to patients around the world.”

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The Thermo Fisher pact resembles another long-term agreement Moderna just inked with Spain’s Laboratorios Farmacéuticos Rovi, or Rovi. Under that 10-year pact, Moderna will make an unspecified number of investments in Rovi’s Madrid facility to beef up capacity.

The Rovi deal is expected to close by the end of the first quarter, and it covers Moderna’s future mRNA-based drugs and vaccines along with its current COVID-19 shot.