Novartis gets $486M contract for Holly Springs plant
Posted January 15, 2009 10:00 a.m. EST
Updated January 15, 2009 5:32 p.m. EST
BASEL, Switzerland — Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis AG said Thursday it has secured a $486 million contract for its flu vaccine plant under construction in Holly Springs.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services granted the eight-year contract to operate a vaccine manufacturing site that could respond to potential pandemics.
Novartis said more than 300 people would work at the plant by 2012. The plant will be used to develop a new flu vaccine using cell cultures. Existing vaccines are derived from eggs, which can take up to nine months to produce and are susceptible to the avian flu virus.
“This HHS contract builds on the strategic investment made by Novartis in vaccines innovation, and reinforces the significant financial and technology investments we have already committed to Holly Springs,” Dr. Andrin Oswald, chief executive of Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics, said in a statement.
The plant will serve a double function, producing vaccine to inoculate people from seasonal flu and adding to U.S. government preparedness against an influenza pandemic. In that event, the plant would aim to produce 150 million doses of vaccine within six months, officials said.