GSK invests in vaccine factory

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The Journal, 30 Sep 2006

DRUGS firm GlaxoSmithKline is investing more than £339m into a French factory to boost vaccine manufacturing capacity.

The pharmaceutical group, which employs 2,200 people at plants in County Durham and Cumbria, is investing the money in the St Amand-Les-Eaux factory.

The plant will meet increasing uptake of its existing products and anticipated strong demand for Cervarix, a new vaccine to prevent cervical cancer, that is expected to be approved next year.

Jean Stephenne, head of the company's vaccines operations, said: “GSK's vaccines business is enjoying explosive growth.”

The new site, which is expected to be operational in 2011, will house formulation, filling, freeze-drying and packaging lines, boosting GlaxoSmithKline's global capacity in these between 50% and 60%.

It will contribute to the production of new Glaxo vaccines now under development, included an improved flu vaccine for the elderly, as well as Cervarix.

Cervarix is a new kind of vaccine that prevents cervical cancer by protecting against the sexually transmitted human papilloma virus that can cause the disease.

It is behind a rival product called Gardasil from Merck & Co, which has already won regulatory approval, but GSK is hopeful that its treatment will reach the market by 2007.

Approval for Cervarix in Europe could come in the first half of next year, while in the United States the product is still targeted for filing with the US Food and Drug Administration by the end of this year.