Emergent set to announce anthrax vaccine contract

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By Marjorie Censer
Capital Business Staff Writer
Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Rockville-based Emergent BioSolutions is set to announce Wednesday that it has received a contract worth up to $107 million to ready its anthrax vaccine for large-scale manufacture.

Emergent said the award will help add up to $10 million in additional revenue -- and pretax profit of up to $5 million -- in the second half of 2010.

The Department of Health and Human Services' Office of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) awarded the contract, which funds two years for a total of nearly $55 million and includes three additional, optional years.

According to Emergent, the contract will pay for the company to develop and obtain regulatory approval for large-scale manufacture of the vaccine, called BioThrax. BioThrax is the only vaccine licensed by the Food and Drug Administration to prevent anthrax infection.

"We expect that this investment by the government in increasing capacity will ultimately lead to large-scale procurement contracts," said Daniel J. Abdun-Nabi, Emergent's president and chief operating officer.

The company expects to begin making representative batches as early as the end of next year at its Lansing, Mich., facility and to submit the data to the FDA for regulatory approval of the plant and its processes as soon as 2013.

The award is based on an Emergent proposal that says the company can produce 26 million doses annually, a significant increase from the roughly 7 million to 9 million it generates today. But Abdun-Nabi said the Michigan facility can be further expanded to produce 50 million to 60 million doses annually.

Robin Robinson, director of BARDA, said the contract will mean an increased national supply of the vaccine.

"Our preparedness for anthrax will be much greater," he said.

Beyond the U.S. government's stockpile, Emergent said it anticipates potential sales abroad.

"We do see opportunities internationally. We are receiving calls," Abdun-Nabi said. "There is increased awareness of the threat."


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