Pharmaceutical firm Novartis AG will soon build a new $400 million flu vaccine manufacturing plant.
It is expected that the pharmaceutical company will shortly announce further details of the plan.
Officials with Novartis recently toured a lakefront site in Research Triangle Park and a site at Treyburn Corporate Park in north Durham in North Carolina, USA. Officials in Maryland and Georgia say Novartis representatives also have toured sites around eastern Baltimore County in Maryland and in Athens, Georgia.
The vaccine plant would produce a cell-based influenza vaccine that could be used in case of an avian flu outbreak. Competition between sites is high, because the plant would employ 700-800 people.
Novartis announced it would build a $400 million plant in the US shortly after it was awarded a $220 million contract on May 5 from the US Department of Health and Human Services. The contract is to develop technology for speedier mass-production of flu vaccines.
GlaxoSmithKline, Solvay Pharmaceuticals, MedImmune Inc and DynPort Vaccine Co also have been awarded government contracts for flu vaccine production, bringing the total US investment to $1 billion. Sources say officials representing Georgia-based Solvay Pharmaceuticals also have looked at sites in North Carolina for a vaccine manufacturing operation.
Novartis plans to develop a cell-based version of the flu vaccine that can be produced quicker than the traditional method using chicken eggs. Its plant in Germany is already producing the new version of the vaccine, but the US government contract requires that the company also operate a plant in the United States.