(Courtesy photo by Kevin Allen)
One of the major pharma companies looking to produce a vaccine for COVID-19 is looking to manufacture in Maryland.
AstraZeneca this week said it signed an agreement with Catalent to make drug substance for the vaccine at the latter company’s commercial gene therapy facility near BWI airport. The facility will be prepared so multiple production trains can run in parallel to produce the drug substance in the third quarter of 2021.
The 200,000-square-foot facility, which opened last year, was acquired by New Jersey-based Catalent when it bought Baltimore-born Paragon Bioservices in a $1.2 billion deal. AstraZeneca is also working with a Catalent facility in Anagni, Italy, that will preform vial filling and packaging for the vaccine.
Catalent Cell and Gene Therapy President Dr. Manja Boerman said the company is “pleased to have the capabilities at our flagship Catalent Gene Therapy site to expand our support for the AstraZeneca program, while continuing to serve our current gene therapy customers.”
AstraZeneca is developing a vaccine that it licensed from University of Oxford and spinout Vaccitech. While manufacturing is being put in place now in order to ramp up quickly, the vaccine is currently in clinical trials and has not been approved for widespread use.
Catalent joins Emergent Biosolutions as a local drug manufacturer with agreements in place to make COVID-19 vaccines. Emergent Biosolutions, which has a pair of facilities in Baltimore city, has similar arrangements with multiple companies that include AstraZeneca.
It’s a sign that the local life sciences sector is continuing to jump into the fight against COVID-19. Earlier this week, a release from Gov. Larry Hogan’s office said nearly 40 companies and orgs in Maryland are involved in vaccines, therapeutics, diagnostic tests and clinical research related to the disease that’s causing the pandemic.
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