Rovi wins Spanish contract for flu vaccines

The Spanish government has awarded a Euro 60m contract to Laboratorios Farmaceuticos Rovi to produce pandemic and seasonal flu vaccines based on a technology developed by US firm Novavax.

The Spanish government has awarded a Euro 60m contract to Laboratorios Farmaceuticos Rovi to produce pandemic and seasonal flu vaccines based on a technology developed by US firm Novavax.

Rovi has entered into an exclusive agreement with Novavax to use its recombinant virus-like-particle (VLP) vaccine technology to develop and manufacture the vaccines for sale in Spain and Portugal.

VLPs are designed to induce protective immune responses without generating infection since they are not made from a live virus and contain no genetic material in their inner core.

The agreement also includes non-exclusive licences to sell the vaccines in Europe, Latin America and Africa.

In addition, Rovi will take a US$3m (€2.2m) equity stake in Novavax as part of the agreement.

A non-profit foundation, jointly sponsored by Rovi and the Spanish authorities, will be formed and funded with a €25m credit line from the Spanish government, to support Phase III clinical development and other studies necessary to achieve marketing authorisation for the VLP influenza vaccines in the EU by 2012.

Rovi will also build a new €20m VLP vaccine manufacturing plant in Granada, which is due to come on stream in 2012. The deal is expected to include milestones and royalties once details have been finalised.

Juan Lopez-Belmonte Encina, ceo of Rovi, said: "The pandemic flu vaccine business is currently a key part of the strategy of Rovi, and we are committed to the business as one of the future growth drivers for the company."

Dr Rahul Singhvi, president and ceo of Novavax, said: "Through this partnership, the goal to supply influenza vaccines for all Spanish citizens from domestic production should be achieved in year 2012."

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