GSK gets OK for $91M vaccine plant with Texas A&M

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) last year anted up $400 million as part of an ambitious plan to expand vaccine manufacturing in the U.S. which it could tap in case of a pandemic. One leg of a three-legged stool on which that plan sits is about to be built. 

GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) and Texas A&M have the go-ahead to build a $91 million influenza vaccine plant northwest of Houston at the Texas A&M Center for Innovation in Advanced Development and Manufacturing. GSK will use the facility to manufacture vaccines using the EB66 cell culture line it licensed from Vivalis. The cell culture will free the plant from the need to source eggs and help it respond quickly to the emergence of pandemic strains. GSK expects to be able to supply 50 million doses within four months of an outbreak.

The Houston plant forms part of a three-pronged vaccine production network envisaged by the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA). GSK and Texas A&M received $176 million, the largest slice of the $400 million in grants. Another $163 million is going to Emergent BioSolutions ($EBS), which makes the anti-anthrax drug BioThrax. Emergent is partnered with universities in Michigan and Maryland for an 8-year grant. The remaining $60 million went to Novartis ($NVS) for expansion of the vaccine manufacturing facility it already is building in Holly Springs, NC, in collaboration with HHS. It will work with North Carolina State University and Duke University.

HHS says the three companies will provide about 35% of the total cost of the initial building phase and HHS will support the cost of operation and maintenance of the centers in subsequent years. The HHS says the plan creates the infrastructure needed to quickly produce a variety of vaccines to meet a quarter of the nation's needs if a disease sweeps the U.S. In 2009, HHS says, only one H1N1 vaccine maker had facilities within the U.S. More funds are expected as the effort plays out. 

- here's the release
- read more in FierceVaccines

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