SK bioscience inks deal to support vaccine manufacturing in Thailand

SK bioscience signed a memorandum of understanding with Thailand’s Government Pharmaceutical Organization to help develop the country’s vaccine manufacturing sector, with the partners aiming to turn the country into a sterile injection hub for Southeast Asia.

As part of the deal, SK will transfer vaccine technology to the state-run organization. A future agreement will support the transfer of the South Korean biotech’s cell culture-based influenza vaccine for local manufacturing at the plant owned by the GPO, according to a July 5 press release.

Once the tech is handed over, the GPO plans to seek marketing authorization from Thailand's regulatory health agency. Both organizations expect the influenza vaccine produced at the facility will be used for Thailand's national immunization program.

The agreement between the two countries is part of an effort to be prepared to respond to future pandemics and position Thailand’s manufacturing capabilities to serve the region.

“The convergence of SK bioscience´s technology, GPO’s manufacturing capability, and the administrative support from health authorities from both countries will form a powerful synergy, exemplifying a successful global partnership poised to effectively respond to the next pandemic,” Jaeyong Ahn, SK bioscience's chief executive, said in the release.

The GPO, which was established in 1966, supplies medicines and vaccines to Thailand’s public hospitals.

For its part, SK bioscience last November revealed an expansion push to focus on vaccine manufacturing and R&D to respond to the endemic phase of COVID-19, while at the same time seeking global markets for its offerings.

At the time, SK said it would purchase cell and gene therapy and next-generation platform technologies as well as strengthen its global partnership, R&D and manufacturing capabilities to prepare for future pandemics and advance novel therapies.