Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccines division of Sanofi, said today it will partner with SK Chemical to co-develop a pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV), in a deal expected to net the South Korean company at least $23 million and make use of the Asian nation’s first cell-culture based manufacturing plant.
Sanofi agreed to pay SK Chemical $23 million upfront, while both companies agreed to co-invest in development of the PCV vaccine project. If the vaccine proves successful, SK Chemical would produce the vaccine at its cell-culture based GMP production facility in Andong, with Sanofi Pasteur launching the product for commercial sale. Both companies agreed to share profits outside of Korea, where SK would hold exclusive rights to commercialize the vaccine.
“This is an important milestone for SK and for Korea,” In-Serk Lee, CEO of SK Chemical, said in a statement. “We are proud to partner with Sanofi Pasteur, one of the global leaders of the vaccine industry, to be able to develop and manufacture in Korea a premium vaccine that has the potential to be distributed worldwide.”
The recently-opened Andong facility, located inside the Gyeongbuk Bio Industry Complex, is South Korea’s largest vaccine manufacturing plant and the first in that nation to be cell-culture-based. The project was supported by South Korea’s Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy, since the plant is designed for large-scale production of vaccines against influenza or other infectious diseases.
Built on a 63,000-square-meter (15.6-acre) property, the Andong plant is a multi-product production plant designed to produce 140 million doses of vaccine per year at full capacity, but which is now producing various vaccines for clinical trials. Once those studies end, SK said, the plant will start producing vaccines at large scale using next-generation technologies.
The plant in October was certified as “gold” under the US Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) energy-efficiency rating systems. The rating recognizes the Andong facility’s energy-saving efforts, which include LED lighting, use of recycled water and a design that uses less overall water in toilets, as well as an overall 30% reduction in energy consumed compared with other factory plants of the same size, SK said in October.