U.S. government gives $1B vote of confidence to Emergent BioSolutions’ anthrax vax

A double blessing has dawned upon Emergent BioSolutions: The CDC signed a contract to stockpile the company's anthrax vaccine, BioThrax, worth about $911 million, while another agency expressed its intention to buy another $100 million worth of the shot.

The deal with the CDC means Emergent will supply about 29.4 million doses of BioThrax to the Strategic National Stockpile through September 2021. A previous 5-year contract with the agency, which expired this September, has already seen the company supply 44.75 million doses of BioThrax—the only FDA-approved anthrax vaccine—to the U.S. government for a value of about $1.25 billion. The new deal brings the average unit price for BioThrax to $31 from $28.

The Maryland-based company will also receive a $100 million contract with the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority in the first half of next year and will finish delivery to the stockpile within two years.

The announcements came shortly after a separate $1.6 billion award from BARDA for the biodefense company to continue developing and eventually deliver NuThrax, the company’s improved anthrax vaccine candidate.

The new version is currently in phase 3, with the company previously saying it expects an FDA approval in 2018. Deliveries could start as early as 2019. The two parties also have the option to add a maximum supply of up to 50 million doses.

On the heels of the new purchase orders, Emergent has adjusted the 2016 forecast of total revenue on a continuing operations basis—which excludes operations of its former biosciences business, now as a spinoff called Aptevo Therapeutics—to $485 million from $465 million.

Aside from NuThrax, the company’s clinical pipeline includes another anthrax vaccine, PreviThrax, currently in phase 1; VAX161C, a pandemic influenza shot currently in phase 1; and UV-4B, a Dengue vaccine also in phase 1. Emergent also entered into the highly competitive Zika realm, with a $21.9 million contract with BARDA.

The company currently has three manufacturing sites in the U.S. and one in Canada. It’s Baltimore, Maryland-based facility was contracted in June 2012 by HHS as one of three Centers for Innovation in Advanced Development and Manufacturing. The task of the structure is to expand the country’s capability to respond to bioterrorism threats and influenza pandemic.