Greenville’s DSM Pharmaceuticals, the largest contract manufacturing facility in North America, is sharing in a $40 million federal contract while adding to North Carolina’s renown as “Vaccine Central.”

DSM’s 1.5 million-square-foot pharmaceutical manufacturing site on its 640-acre, 29-building campus is one of four sharing a $39.8 million contract to boost the nation’s ability to manufacture influenza vaccine quickly in a pandemic.

DSM, part of a multi-billion-dollar Dutch conglomerate, was named by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to be part of a “fill and finish” manufacturing network, which will cover the final steps in the vaccine manufacturing process.

In announcing the selection earlier this week, HHS officials said the network will potentially increase the national flu vaccine production capacity by 20 percent.

The Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), in HHS’ Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, awarded the new contracts to DSM plus Cook Pharmica of Bloomington, Ind.; JHP Pharmaceuticals of Parsippany, N.J.; and Nanotherapeutics of Alachua, Fla.

Responding to Man-Made, Natural Threats

“No longer will fill and finish manufacturing be the limiting factor in making pandemic influenza vaccines or other products available in a public health emergency,” said BARDA Director Robin Robinson, Ph.D. “The fill and finish manufacturing network will be an integral part of other national assets that address the need for timely manufacturing of medical countermeasures to respond to man-made and natural threats.”

DSM, which has invested more than $160 million since 2001 to expand and modernize, has twice been named Pitt County Industry of the Year – first in 2007, and again in February 2013. In 2012 alone, DSM added 139 jobs at its Greenville site.

NC Leads in Vaccine Discovery, Manufacturing

North Carolina’s leadership in vaccine development and production is based on facilities such as Novartis’ $1 billion cell-culture facility in Holly Springs and the $42 million Medicago factory in Research Triangle Park that grows viral-like particles in tobacco leaves, recently acquired by Mitsubishi.

Nearby, in Durham, is Merck’s 650,000-square-foot egg-based multi-vaccine facility, also now approaching the $1 billion investment mark..North Carolina is also home to the North American headquarters for GlaxoSmithKline, and has major vaccine manufacturing facilities owned by Pfizer, Greer Laboratories and Grifols.

There are also numerous development-stage vaccine companies such as Arbovax in Raleigh, initially targeting dengue but with a platform technology that’s also believed capable of combating West Nile and other mosquito-borne diseases.

(C) NC Biotech Center