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GSK expands in China with vaccine joint venture

Published on 12/10/09 at 01:24pm

GSK has joined with Chinese biotech Jiangsu Walvax to develop and manufacture paediatric vaccines for use in China.

The pair will produce vaccines for measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) and potentially other paediatric vaccines. GSK will also over time transfer technology to enable the joint venture to manufacture the vaccines locally.

Jean Stephenne, president of GSK Biologicals, said the joint venture builds on GSK's global business model, which has fostered innovative partnerships to develop and deliver vaccines all over the world.

He added: "In China, GSK is establishing local production capacity with a leading vaccine manufacturer and developer, in advance of the significant expansion in the Chinese public vaccine market. Together with Walvax, we can support China's goals to accelerate vaccination and save children from preventable diseases."

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 197,000 people worldwide died of measles in 2007, and more than 95% of these deaths occurred in low-income countries.

Following its pledge to eradicate measles by 2012, and its wider plan to improve access to medicines, the Chinese Ministry of Health incorporated MMR vaccine into its Expanded Programme on Immunization in 2008.

GSK says in addition to the technology transfer, the partnership will build a new manufacturing facility for GSK's MMR vaccine Priorix and once the facility is operational, it will supply the vaccines to China's public vaccine market.

Once the venture is formed, upon fulfilment of a number of conditions, a total of £41.2 million will be invested into it. GSK will initially invest £20.1m at incorporation and an additional £7.3m will be invested in 2015.

Walvax will invest a total of £13.8 million. Equity interest will be divided 65% and 35% between GSK and Walvax respectively with provisions enabling both parties to revise their equity share in the future.

Walvax is an affiliate of Yunnan Walvax Biotech, and is China's second largest manufacturer of Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) conjugate vaccine.

The company has significant expertise in freeze-drying technologies, which make vaccine preservation and transportation easier.

The collaboration further expands GSK's presence in China. In June of this year, GSK also signed an agreement with Chinese biotech company Shenzhen Neptunus Interlong Bio-Technique to develop and manufacture flu vaccines.

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