Novartis (NYSE: NVS) , which operates a massive $1 billion vaccine production plant as well as a research and development operation in Holly Springs, and the universities will create a center for biodefense and to combat pandemic influenza under a contract with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The four-year contract with the federal government is valued at $60 million. Contracts can be renewed for up to 25 years.
GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE: GSK) is part of a contract for one of the three announced centers, working with the Texas A&M University System. The contract is valued at $176 million over five years.
The partners in each of three announced sites will be responsible for 35 percent of the cost of each.
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced the contracts Monday.
HHS is creating the centers in what it describes as the “first major U.S. domestic infrastructure to address biodefense threats and pandemic influenza.” The program will cost some $400 million.
The sites are to develop and manufacturer “countermeasures” for such threats. They also will help train biopharmaceutical workers, HHS said.
The Novartis plant was built after the company landed a contract with the U.S. government to produce vaccines, focusing on new means of producing vaccines.
“Establishing these centers represents a dramatic step forward in ensuring that the United States can produce life-saving countermeasures quickly and nimbly,” Sebelius said in a statement. “They will improve our ability to protect Americans’ health in an emergency and help fill gaps in preparedness so that our nation can respond to known or unknown threats.”
If a pandemic outbreak were to occur, HHS said the centers would be capable of producing a fourth of the nation’s vaccine needs within four months.
Called Centers for Innovation in Advanced Development and Manufacturing, the cites are public-private partnerships.
Part of the plan also calls for the centers to work with “small biotech companies” in dealing with technology, regulatory affairs, quality systems and manufacturing as well as worker training.
The other centers will be located in Maryland and in Texas.
GSK, which operates its U.S. headquarters in RTP, will utilize its vaccine manufacturing plant in Marietta, Pa.