22 December 2003 00:00 [Source: PCE]Avecia Biotechnology has submitted a bid to the US government for a contract for the manufacture of 3m doses of pneumonic plague vaccine. The contract should be awarded by the third quarter of 2004.
There is potential that the US government may then seek bids for a second contract for the manufacture of significantly larger quantities of the vaccine.
Avecia's bid for the plague vaccine contract comes two months after the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) awarded the company a $71.3m (about €62m) contract for the manufacture of 3m doses of a new type of recombinant anthrax vaccine. Like the anthrax deal, production of the plague vaccine would be in collaboration with the UK's Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL).
The vaccine work comes as Avecia's biotechnology arm seeks to build long term relationships with key customers, including the management of product development and clinical trials.
Speaking at the Cordia-EuropaBio 2003 event, Avecia Biotechnology's vice president Kevin Cox said that capacity for biologics manufacturing was already in balance with demand and no new capacity was needed.
'There is a real blandness in the small molecule fine chemical manufacturing sector, with so much overcapacity, and it is essential that we avoid that situation in the biotechnology sector,' he said.
Cox said that over the past four years Avecia had invested over $100m in its biotechnology business. While 2003 had been a tough year, he expected 2004 to be much stronger. Cox also announced a deal with US biopharmaceutical firm Biosynexus for the process optimisation and manufacturing of the anti-staphylococcal drug Lysostaphin, which combats hospital acquired antibiotic resistant infections.
Under the agreement with Avecia, the manufacturing process is being optimised and validated, with product supply for late stage clinical trials. The programmes will run at Avecia's Billingham, UK, site.
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