WuXi to build dedicated vaccine facility, but who's the client?

WuXi Biologics Shanghai innovation center
WuXi Biologics says its vaccine joint venture has a new client and a 20-year arrangement it says should be worth about $3 billion. (WuXi Biologics)

WuXi Biologics says it will build a dedicated facility to manufacture a commercial vaccine product for a client in a contract that should produce $150 million a year for 20 years. It just didn’t identify the client.

The Chinese CDMO Monday announced the letter of intent, saying WuXi Vaccines will build a vaccine manufacturing facility that will be able to handle substance and drug product manufacturing and will include quality control labs. It said it has estimated the value of the 20-year manufacturing contract at more than $3 billion.

"Vaccine CDMO is one of the next growth areas for WuXi Biologics,” WuXi Biologics CEO Chris Chen said in a statement.

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While WuXi didn’t identify the partner, it offered a couple clues. It said the site will manufacture 100% of the global market of one the partner's vaccine products, suggesting the vaccines might be intended for use outside China. Most Chinese vaccine makers only produce for the country.

Also, when WuXi Vaccines was formed last year as a joint venture between WuXi Biologics and veterinary vaccine maker Shanghai Hile Bio-Technology, WuXi said in a securities filing the venture was being formed to primarily make cancer vaccines.   

Reports in the China media earlier this year said WuXi was in talks with three vaccine developers to make their products in China. But Chen at the time suggested the company might be making a play for the country’s vaccination market after regulatory reactions to scandals by Chinese makers limited their production. 

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