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J&J expands COVID-19 vaccine pact with Catalent for finishing work at Italian facility

July 7, 2020
Life sciences

Johnson & Johnson has been on a manufacturing deal spree as it nears human trials for its COVID-19 vaccine hopeful. On the same day it inked a $480 order from a Maryland CDMO, J&J announced it would expand its pact with another manufacturer to scale up production as fast as possible.

J&J has expanded its COVID-19 vaccine manufacturing pact with New Jersey-based Catalent to include work at the CDMO’s Anagni, Italy facility, a J&J spokesman said Monday.

New Jersey-based J&J initially tapped Catalent in April to reserve fill-finish capacity for its COVID-19 shot at its Bloomington, Indiana plant. As part of that deal, Catalent agreed to hire an additional 300 workers at the plant starting this month, with the goal of reaching 24/7 manufacturing schedules by January.

In an email, J&J didn’t specify what work Catalent would perform at the Anagni site, but the CDMO previously signed a deal with British drugmaker AstraZeneca to perform fill-finish and packaging duties for the University of Oxford’s adenovirus-based COVID-19 vaccine, AZD1222.

“The latest agreement with Catalent Pharma Solutions in Italy is a continuation of our partnership and represents progress in our overall efforts,” the drugmaker said.

J&J didn’t disclose the financial terms of the deal. A Catalent spokesman could not be reached for comment by press time.

During a visit to the Anagni site Monday, Italian Health minister Roberto Speranz indicated J&J’s vaccine would be completed at the 305,000-square-foot site, Reuters reported.

In mid-June, Catalent and AstraZeneca reached a deal for finish-fill duties at the Anagni site, with Catalent pledging to produce “hundreds of millions of doses” beginning in August 2020 and potentially running through March 2022 if the vaccine receives full regulatory approval.

On Monday, J&J signed a five-year supply deal with Maryland-based Emergent BioSolutions to produce even more of its COVID-19 shot. The first two years of that deal are valued at $480 million, with doses provided as needed in the final three years.

As the initial step in what was pitched as the “first in a series” of manufacturing deals in March, J&J tapped Emergent to help boost production of its shot, which the company hopes to move into phase 1/2 trials later this month.

As part of the deal, J&J pledged to expand its own capacity for producing the vaccine with Emergent sharing its “molecule-to-market” manufacturing know-how. Emergent also reserved capacity at its Bayview Baltimore facility to support a potential commercial rollout of J&J’s shot beginning as early as 2021, should it nab an approval.

By: Kyle Blankenship

Source: Fierce Pharma

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