Novartis expanding U.S. vaccine complex

Novartis ($NVS) intends to again expand its massive vaccine manufacturing plant in North Carolina that is part of the U.S. strategy to react to a pandemic, including any that might be set off by a bioterror attack.

The Swiss company intends to invest $60 million to erect a 38,000-square-foot technical services building at the Holly Springs, NC, campus, according to the Raleigh News & Observer. The project is set to begin this summer and be completed in 2015. Novartis last year completed a $36 million R&D facility at the site.

The Novartis plant is one of three that the U.S. is helping fund as part of an ambitious plan to expand vaccine manufacturing in the U.S. which it can tap in case of a pandemic. The U.S. has already committed about $500 million to the $1 billion Novartis complex. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) last year anted up another $400 million, hooking up Novartis and two other vaccinemakers with universities that can research vaccines.

GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) is also part of the three-pronged strategy. Last month Glaxo and partner Texas A&M received the go-ahead to build a $91 million influenza vaccine plant northwest of Houston at the Texas A&M Center for Innovation in Advanced Development and Manufacturing. Both the GSK and Novartis plants are approved to use mammalian cell cultures instead of egg-based cultures, which will shave weeks off the manufacturing process. The third player is Emergent BioSolutions ($EBS), which makes the anti-anthrax drug BioThrax.

- here's the Raleigh News & Observer story

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