Drug joint venture plans new vaccine

Drug joint venture plans new vaccine

CHACHOENGSAO : A joint venture between Thailand's Government Pharmaceutical Organization (GPO) and France's Sanofi Pasteur is embarking upon a 700-million-baht upgrade to its vaccine production facility here.

An employee of GPO-MBP works on a vaccine at the company’s facility in Chachoengsao province. The joint venture plans to spend 700 million baht to develop a new vaccine for diphtheria, tetanus, acellular pertussis and hepatitis B.

The expansion at Government Pharmaceutical Organization-Merieux Biological Products Co (GPO-MBP), to begin this year, will take eight years and result in a new combination vaccine with fewer side effects.

GPO-MBP is a joint venture between the GPO and Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccine division of the French healthcare company Sanofi, with dual 49% ownership and the other 2% owned by the Crown Property Bureau.

Opened in 2002, the GPO-MBP facility is located on 24,000 square metres in Chachoengsao province, with 6,000 sq m dedicated to manufacturing.

It produces vaccines for hepatitis B, rabies, measles, polio, flu and Japanese encephalitis, employing 124 people, with 35 scientists, pharmacists or engineers.

Somchai Srichainak, the GPO's deputy managing director for finance, said the new DTacP-HepB vaccine will immunise against diphtheria, tetanus, acellular pertussis and hepatitis B in a single shot.

Once completed, the manufacturing technology and intellectual property rights will be transferred to GPO-MBP.

"The investment will help GPO-MBP to increase its production capability, allowing it to move from a buyer to a producer of vaccine," said Mr Somchai.

"This knowledge could be used to develop more advanced drugs for cancer treatment and other diseases."

The compound is also the only local vaccine production facility to obtain World Health Organization pre-qualification and the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration's Good Manufacturing Practice certification.

A recent success for GMO-MBP was it becoming a country of origin for Sanofi's new Japanese encephalitis vaccine marketed under the name Imojev. Launched last December, it is approved for use in Thailand and Australia.

GPO-MBP has a production capacity of 20 million doses per year, depending on the type of vaccine.

"The facility is more than capable of meeting domestic demand for vaccines," said Boonrak Thawornrungroaj, GPO-MBP's director of industrial affairs.

GPO-MBP expects to revenue of 800 million baht this year, with 5% put back into R&D. Some 95% of all vaccines produced by GPO-MBP are used locally.

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