July 21 (Reuters) – Catalent Inc (CTLT.N) plans a $100 million expansion of its plant in Agnani, Italy, where the contract drug manufacturer is currently filling millions of vials of COVID-19 vaccines for AstraZeneca (AZN.L) and Johnson & Johnson (JNJ.N)Catalent expects the expansion will allow it by April 2023 to be able to make the drug substance for complicated biologic drugs, including COVID-19 vaccines or therapies like monoclonal antibodies.”
In Europe there is a shortage of capacity of bioreactors for biologic (drugs),” Mario Gargiulo, Catalent’s Region President of Biologics in Europe said in an interview.
“We thought that this was the right place to create this capability, a capability that can be used for a public health emergency like COVID-19.”
The company plans to install two 2,000-liter single-use bioreactors at the Agnani plant, as well as the infrastructure required for another six 2,000-liter single-use bioreactors.
Catalent acquired the Agnani plant from Bristol Myers Squibb (BMY.N) in January 2020 and quickly signed deals to fill and finish the AstraZeneca and J&J vaccines there.
Gargiulo says that by the end of October 2022, the site will have put 1 billion doses of vaccine into vials.
He said that Catalent does not have any deals yet to make COVID-19 vaccine drugs at the plant, and does not know whether there will be a need for the capacity by early 2023.
However, he said Catalent has contracts to fill and finish vaccine that could be renewed through the end of 2023, so there was certainly a possibility the capacity will be required.
“I would say that we would be (supply) constrained with the vaccines for the next couple of years, at least,” he said.