Thermo Fisher putting $22M into new plant in Scotland

Thermo Fisher's Mark Smedley

There is a race to get a dengue fever vaccine to market, a product that analysts say would certainly be a blockbuster. Seeing a need to feed production for vaccines like dengue as well as other biologics, supplier Thermo Fisher ($TMO) is expanding production of a media plant in Scotland.

The Waltham, MA-based company, which is putting more emphasis on life sciences, said it is investing £14 million ($22.2 million) to build a new facility at its site in Inchinnan, Scotland. The plant will allow it to expand production of a proprietary dry media powder that it says produces products that are animal-origin free, single-component, particulate-free powders for chemically defined cell culture that can be used in production of biotherapeutics and vaccines. The new plant will complement one in Grand Island, NY, where it also makes the product. The facility in Inchinnan will also bulk up production of the other products made there, like liquid media. The company is getting some help for the project from development authorities in the country.

"This is a strategically important facility that will secure supplies for our target markets all over the world," Mark Smedley, president of Europe, Middle East and Africa, Life Sciences Solutions, said in a statement.

Lots of companies are making the kinds of vaccines that Thermo Fisher is talking about. Flu vaccines are already big business. GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK), Sanofi ($SNY), and South Korea's Green Cross make flu vaccines for the world market, and China's Hualan Biological Bacterin just had its seasonal flu vaccines prequalified by the WHO. Novartis ($NVS) also makes flu vaccines but is divesting its flu vaccine business to Australia's CSL. Sanofi is hoping to get its highly anticipated dengue fever vaccine approved and to market this year, which analysts have predicted could reach about $1.5 billion in sales. Japan's Takeda is also working on a vaccine for dengue.

- here's the release