Rockville biotech snags $220M for biodefense center -- Gazette.Net


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This story was corrected on June 22, 2012. An explanation follows the story.

Emergent BioSolutions, the Rockville biotech that sells the only approved anthrax vaccine to the federal government, has won a grant worth up to $220 million to establish a new biodefense development and manufacturing center in Maryland.

It will be one of three Centers for Innovation in Advanced Development and Manufacturing announced Monday by the Department of Health and Human Services. Together, $400 million is initially earmarked for the program, according to an agency statement.

The centers are designed to develop a range of medical countermeasures to biological, radiological and nuclear threats. They also will ensure the capability to produce vaccines for pandemic influenza and provide work force development programs for federal needs through academic partners. The centers will be public-private partneships involving the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, part of the federal health agency. Emergent works with the authority to develop a second-generation anthrax vaccine.

The Emergent grant calls for $163 million for an initial eight-year period, followed by 17 additional one-year optional renewals, according to the agency. The flu vaccine plant will be in Baltimore, with some of the money also earmarked for renovating an Emergent development and manufacturing plant in Gaithersburg.

Emergent's stock rose 5.6 percent on the news Monday.

"This award underscores Emergent’s core competencies not only in product development and manufacturing, but also our expertise in contracting with the U.S. government and navigating the regulatory process," CEO Daniel J. Abdun-Nabi said in a statement.

The project — which also involves University of Maryland; Vaxlnnate of Cranbury, N.J.; Michigan State University; and Kettering University — will support 1,000 jobs, according to U.S. Sen. Barbara A. Milkulski (D) of Baltimore.

“In Maryland, life science is the life blood of our economy," Mikulski said in a statement. "It supports jobs developing new biological products, new pharmaceuticals and new cures that save and improve lives. ... With this smart federal investment, ... we will fight the threat of bioterrorism, pandemics and epidemics, while creating jobs in Maryland, making our country safer and our economy stronger.”

The other two federal centers will be led by Novartis in Holly Springs, N.C., with a $60 million investment for the first four years; and by the Texas A&M University System, under a $176 million, five-year contract.

Under the program, the private partners will cover about 35 percent of the initial building costs, with the federal agency paying operating and maintenance costs in subsequent years.

"Establishing these centers represents a dramatic step forward in ensuring that the United States can produce life-saving countermeasures quickly and nimbly," agency Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in the 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."

Explanation: The original version of this story, based on information from the office of U.S. Sen. Barbara A. Milkulski (D) of Baltimore, reported that Vaxlnnate of Cranbury, N.J., is a member of the Emergent BioSolutions partnership for a new biodefense center. It is not.