Taking over vacated space in Pearl River, NY, from Pfizer ($PFE), Protein Sciences has secured a lease on two buildings with plans to manufacture its advanced influenza vaccine known as Flublok there. The lease gives Meriden, CT-based Protein Sciences access to 83,000 square feet of space at Pfizer's 550-acre Pearl River campus, which has been subject to cutbacks within the past couple of years.
New York state officials cheered Protein Sciences' move and Empire State Development of NY is ponying up $2 million in tax credits for the biotech. Good news has been hard to come by for the Pearl River site, which has been hammered with layoffs and cutbacks since 2010 and as Pfizer has axed jobs and overhead costs to improve the economics of its massive Wyeth buyout. In fact, Protein Sciences will revitalize manufacturing space where Wyeth--which Pfizer bought in 2009 for $68 billion--had produced a vaccine.
Protein Sciences is banking on the FDA to license Flublok within months, and the biotech plans to employ 50 people in Pearl River initially to help meet expected demand for the recombinant vaccine. The company touts the fact that no actual flu virus is needed to produce its vaccine, which takes out the risk of patients developing flu from it. Because the vaccine is made in a recombinant process, and not with eggs like most flu vaccines, the biotech also expects the shot to be safe for people with egg allergies.
"With Flublok approval around the corner, the company anticipates significant growth," stated Manon Cox, CEO of Protein Sciences, which expects to employ to up to 150 workers in Pearl River over the next decade. Local and state officials in New York stepped up to support the move, she said, adding that she hopes officials in her company's home state of Connecticut follow suit.