Microbix and Hunan Biopharmaceutical to build Asia's largest flu
29 October 2009
Canadian vaccine technology company Microbix, (TSX:MBX) has
signed a joint venture agreement with the Hunan Biopharmaceutical Co.
Ltd. (a Hunan Province state-owned enterprise) for initial financing to
construct Asia's largest influenza vaccine production facility and the
world's third largest.
The agreement forms an equal partnership joint venture to build and
operate a $200-million facility, located in Changsha National Biomedical
Park near Changsha City, the capital of Hunan Province, which will have
the capacity to produce more than 100 million doses of seasonal
influenza vaccine annually, and up to 300 million doses of a pandemic
influenza vaccine in the event of an outbreak to immunize against a
single strain of influenza.
The facility, for which construction will begin in early 2010 and be
fully operational by 2013, will be designed around Microbix VIRUSMAX
vaccine technology. More than five years in development at Microbix,
VIRUSMAX is designed to increase influenza vaccine yields and has
demonstrated an average yield increase of two-fold over current
William J. Gastle, Microbix Chairman and CEO, said, "We're pleased
that our innovative VIRUSMAX influenza vaccine technology will
contribute significantly to seasonal and pandemic influenza preparedness
in the future."
This facility will make China a leader in the production of flu
vaccine. Microbix will play a major role in meeting the public health
needs in China where, due to limited vaccine production capacity, only
two percent of the population is immunized against flu, while the World
Health Organization recommends that countries have the capacity to
vaccinate at least 60 percent of their populations.
Gastle added, "This facility will make China an important source of
influenza vaccine in the Asia region as well as offering significant
capacity for the Chinese market which is growing significantly. In five
years, the China market is expected to demand up to 500 million
influenza vaccine doses annually."
The Microbix-Hunan project brings government ownership into the
global vaccine industry at a technological level not previously achieved
in China. A substantial investment is being made by Hunan in
transferring the land to the joint venture and building the facility
through the first phase of financing.
As the project progresses, Hunan has agreed to provide additional
funding through debt and has guaranteed the purchase of 100 million
influenza vaccine doses. On all vaccine produced at the facility,
Microbix will receive royalty payments and hold exclusive marketing
rights outside of China.
The quality of the vaccine manufactured at the Microbix-Hunan
facility will enable it to seek approval by the US FDA and the European
Mr. He Jihua, Deputy Mayor of Changsha Municipal Government, said,
"We believe we have ensured the success of this important public health
initiative by choosing Microbix as our partner. They bring expertise in
developing vaccine and virology technologies, manufacturing and product
distribution. The established collaboration that Microbix holds with
world class biomedical and public health organizations will be
He also said that "the cooperation between the two countries, Canada
and China, and the two companies, Microbix and Hunan Biopharmaceutical
in building this vaccine facility will bring greater vaccine capacity
and improved health to China and other regions worldwide."
Microbix CEO William J. Gastle and Changsha National Bioindustry Park
Deputy Director, Mr. Chen Zhigao, signed the agreement after meeting
with officials from the government of Ontario on October 26, 2009 in
Toronto, Ontario, Canada.