Novartis inks deal to manufacture Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines in Slovenia

Novartis inked an agreement that could see production of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine move from its facility in Switzerland to its fill-finish plant in Ljubljana, Slovenia.

Under the initial agreement, Novartis would get bulk mRNA active ingredients from BioNTech, fill them in sterile vials and return them for distribution. The company estimates it would produce about 24 million doses at the site in 2022.

Upon final signoff on the agreement, Novartis plans to move the manufacturing of the vaccine from its facility in Stein, Switzerland, to Ljubljana in the first half of next year. That site currently produces products for Novartis’ subsidiary Sandoz.

Financial terms of the deal weren’t disclosed.

Moving the fill-finish operations for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine would free up space at the Swiss facility, which began filling for BioNTech in June after the European Medicines Agency gave the green light for production at plant.

In announcing the Ljubljana deal, the company may have dropped a small hint of things to come for the Stein complex by announcing that it will continue to offer “to take over manufacturing activities including a variety of technologies such as mRNA production and others.” Novartis added that it would announce specifics “when we conclude specific agreements.”

Earlier this year, Novartis announced it would convert the Stein production site into a life sciences park that would focus on cell and gene therapy production. Dubbed the Life Science Park Rheintal, the company has pumped more than $218 million into upgrades at Stein and Schweizerhalle locations.

In March, Swiss CDMO Celonic signed a lease for a 91,500-square-foot footprint at the growing Novartis life sciences park where it will build production capacity for cell and gene therapies.