Adding 120 N.C. Jobs, Seqirus to Spend $140 Million to Expand Flu Vaccine Plant
Seqirus will use the manufacturing facility to expand on its cell-based quadrivalent influenza vaccine (QIVc). The new facility will employ an additional 120 permanent positions, bringing the total workforce up to over 720 employees.
The construction is projected to be finished by 2020. It will allow for increased fill and finish of the influenza vaccine as well as allow the company to produce pandemic influenza vaccines more quickly, should they be needed.
“According to the CDC, the 2017-2018 influenza season in the U.S. was one of the worst in recent years and influenza continues to be a public health threat,” stated Gordon Naylor, president of Seqirus. “We are deeply committed to developing innovative solutions, including cell-based vaccines, to help reduce deaths and severe illness caused by influenza. In just three years, we have quadrupled our supply of our cell-based influenza vaccine and this major investment will enable us to meet further demand.”
CSL acquired Novartis’ vaccine unit and merged it with its own bioCSL to form Seqirus in 2015. At that time, the Holly Springs manufacturing facility was churning out 3 million doses of cell-based vaccine annually.
The company plans to make and distribute 20 million doses of Flucelvax in the U.S. Seqirus indicates it has the capacity for 40 million doses next year, which it will need to support new product launches. The expansion of the factory will increase that capacity.
Traditional flu shots are egg-based. But after last year’s problems, where the flu vaccine was largely ineffective in the face of a global pandemic, interest has increased in cell-based vaccines. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, last year’s flu vaccines were only 40 percent effective in the U.S.
Last month, Seqirus released data from 12 flu seasons showing that H3N2 flu vaccine strains that came from cells were a better match for circulating strains than the traditional egg-based strains.
Seqirus’ Fluad was originally approved in Italy in 1997. By January 2018, it was licensed in 38 countries, but not in the UK. After last year’s problems with the vaccines, NHS England recommended Fluad.
In January, Richard Pebody, acting head of the respiratory diseases department at Public Health England (PHE), told FiercePharma that Fluad “is likely to be cost-effective and better at preventing flu in adults over 65 years of age.”
In 2017, Seqirus invested $52 million in its fill-finish facility in Liverpool. This allowed for an additional 100 workers.
Other companies manufacturing flu vaccines include Sanofi, GlaxoSmithKline and AstraZeneca.
Seqirus facility in Holly Springs, NC was built in partnership with the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) to fight pandemic flu threats. BARDA is part of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
To celebrate the expansion, Seqirus held an event at the Holly Springs location. It was attended by CSL chief executive officer and managing director, Paul Perreault, community members, and state officials, including U.S. Senator Richard Burr of NC and Holly Springs Mayor Dick Spears.
“Providing safe and effective vaccines to Americans is essential in securing America’s defense against serious public health threats. Public-private partnerships like these are a winning formula for spurring innovation and new discoveries, improving our readiness for the threats we face today and in the future,” said Senator Burr at the event.