PHILADELPHIA -- GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) today announced that it is expanding its ability to increase vaccines supplies for Americans by acquiring a vaccine research and production facility in Marietta, Pa. This acquisition adds to the company's growing vaccines presence in the United States, following GSK's recent purchase of Corixa Corporation, a developer of innovative vaccine adjuvants that increase immune response.
"GlaxoSmithKline can help boost the availability of vaccines for Americans in the future by growing our research and manufacturing capacity in Pennsylvania and the United States today," said JP Garnier, chief executive officer of GlaxoSmithKline. "We are working hand-in-hand with government officials to help meet public health needs by expanding our capabilities as a reliable supplier of vaccines for the U.S. We expect to develop new flu vaccine technology at our Marietta facility that we hope will enhance our future ability to rapidly produce flu vaccines for the nation in response to a pandemic. This new technology will complement our current egg-based flu vaccine manufacturing."
The 90-acre manufacturing site in Marietta, previously owned by Wyeth, will be used to help develop the next generation of vaccines for GlaxoSmithKline. The Marietta site also will focus on the development and production of tissue culture technology that will be used for seasonal and pandemic flu vaccines.
GSK expects to use the Marietta site for the secondary production of several new vaccines for distribution in the U.S. market, following their approval by the FDA. The site has freeze-drying capabilities that will be used to enhance the shelf life and stability of a number of the company's vaccines.
Once a new flu vaccine based on tissue culture is successfully developed by GSK, the company plans to make further investments at the Marietta plant. GSK expects to employ approximately 270 people at the Marietta site.
In May, GSK submitted a Biologics License Application to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) seeking government approval to make its current flu vaccine, Fluarix, available in the U.S. in time for the 2005-2006 flu season. On August 31, 2005, GSK received approval from the US FDA for Fluarix in immunizing adults against influenza caused by virus types A and B. Fluarix is made using egg-based technology, and will be manufactured for the U.S. market at the company's Dresden, Germany facility. In June, GSK announced that it was doubling the capacity of its Dresden, Germany flu manufacturing facility, and building a second plant at the site to meet the increasing demand for flu vaccines worldwide.
In the next five years, GSK hopes to launch five major new vaccines in some countries: Cervarix, an HPV vaccine targeting cervical cancer; Rotarix, a vaccine against rotavirus already approved in 13 countries including Mexico; a vaccine to prevent pneumococcal disease; an improved flu vaccine for the elderly; and a meningitis combination vaccine for infants in the U.S.