Microbix And Hunan Biopharmaceutical To Build Asia's Largest Influenza Vaccine Facility
Canadian Biotech Company Will Provide Its VIRUSMAX(TM) Technology
That Will Double Influenza Vaccine Production
TORONTO, Oct. 27 /CNW/ - Microbix, (TSX:MBX) a developer of a patented technology that doubles the output of influenza vaccine production, announced today it 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 third largest vaccine plant in the world.
Today's 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(TM) 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 production methods.
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 U.S. Food and Drug Administration and European Medicines Agency.
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 invaluable."
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.
Microbix specializes in the development of biological technologies and commercializing them through global partners. The Company has intellectual property in large market biotherapeutic drugs, vaccine technologies and animal reproduction technologies. Established in 1988, Microbix is headquartered in Toronto.
This press release contains forward-looking statements, which are subject to risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those set forth in the forward-looking statements, including risks generally associated with commercializing and producing vaccine in China; and risks associated with various levels of political and economic conditions and other risks including but not limited to, currency exchange rates and restrictions on foreign exchange; high rates of inflation; renegotiation or nullification of existing licenses, permits and contracts; changes in taxation policies; risks associated with repatriation of profits and governmental regulations. This release also contains forward-looking statements which are subject to risks and uncertainties associated with the inability to replicate the laboratory results, limited application of laboratory results to commercialization of the vaccine technology such as being unable to make changes to a production process or not realizing a yield that makes the process economical, among others. These forward-looking statements represent the judgment of Microbix as of the date of this press release. Microbix disclaims any intent or obligation to update these forward-looking statements.