GSK Biologicals, the vaccine division of the pharmaceutical and healthcare company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), announced its decision to build a new production facility in St-Amand-Les-Eaux, France on 29 September 2006. The new plant, currently under construction, will increase the company’s annual production capacity in formulation, filling, freeze-drying and packaging for paediatric and adult vaccines, to more than 300 million doses.
GSK will invest more than €500m in this facility located in Northern France to strengthen the company’s global vaccine manufacturing network. The new investment was called for as the company’s biologicals division plans to launch five major new vaccines by 2011.
The contract for the St-Amand-Les-Eaux plant’s architectural design was awarded to Alain Farel Architects. Technical services, including electrical and mechanical engineering for the new plant, are being provided by Imtech NV.
GSK expects to complete the construction and start production at the facility by 2011. Once fully operational, the new plant is expected to employ about 750 people.
Location and vaccines produced
GSK’s new project in St-Amand-Les-Eaux was approved by the French authorities as part of their initiative launched in 2005 to improve the consideration for the competitive stakes of companies, by implementation of seven competitive clusters exclusively devoted to the bio-pharmaceuticals industry.
GSK will benefit from the French government’s tax concessions for the company’s investment.
Cervarix, GSK’s anti-cervical cancer vaccine, is the main vaccine that will be manufactured at the new site. The St-Amand-les-Eaux site has been chosen as it is close to Brussels, where GSK has a production unit for the active ingredient used in the Cervarix vaccine.
Other vaccines that the St-Amand-Les-Eaux plant will help to produce include the company’s new meningitis vaccines, and two unnamed vaccines – one, a seasonal influenza vaccine and the other, a paediatric vaccine to protect against non-typeable Haemophilus influenzae and streptococcus pneumonia.
While GSK expects to receive US Food and Drug Administration approval for Cervarix towards the end of 2009, the new plant will be made available to meet the projected demand for the cancer-fighting drug.
Synflorix, GSK’s new drug against meningitis was authorised in Europe in March 2009, and could be one of the vaccines that the proposed plant may produce.
The project will include building a number of facilities to assist in the production of GSK’s innovative new vaccines.
A freeze-drying plant to be built in the new facility will convert liquid vaccines into a solid powder to enhance the shelf-life and stability of the vaccines. A liquid plant will be installed at the site for filling syringes and vials. Apart from these, the site will also house quality control laboratories, a packing plant and warehouse, and a power plant.
To increase its global vaccines supplying capacity, GSK has been developing a global manufacturing network based on three major hubs in Europe, North America and Asia. In July 2005, the company invested €94.3m to double production in its Dresden, Germany plant.
In June 2006, it announced a S$300m (about €150m) investment in a new vaccine manufacturing plant in Singapore for production of paediatric vaccines, the company’s first plant in the country.