Sanofi pasteur gear up for influenza pandemic with new plant

Work has officially begun on the construction of a new sanofi pasteur manufacturing facility that will expand the ability of the United States to produce influenza vaccine for both routine influenza immunization and in case of a global influenza pandemic.

Sanofi pasteur is the vaccines business of the sanofi-aventis Group. Pennsylvania Governor Edward G. Rendell was joined by company executives, federal, state and local officials in breaking ground for sanofi pasteur's new 145,000 square-foot, $150 million manufacturing plant.

The new facility is expected to be completely online, validated and ready for production for the 2009 influenza season. The plant will replace an existing facility in Swiftwater, and will double the site's capability for producing influenza vaccine. As a result of the project, it is expected that more than 100 new production jobs will be created at sanofi pasteur's U.S. headquarters in Swiftwater.

"Sadly, 36,000 people die each year as a result of contracting influenza," said Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA). "This facility will contribute strongly to the public health of our nation, as it will help provide an adequate supply of influenza vaccines that will be available for future influenza seasons and the millions of Americans who receive the vaccine every year. Additionally, it will create quality jobs in northeastern Pennsylvania and benefit the entire region's economy."

"The Commonwealth has great respect for sanofi pasteur -- a company that has continued to grow and expand right here in Pennsylvania while protecting and saving lives each and every day," said Governor Rendell, in comments delivered at the event. "It is this type of business growth within high- technology areas, combined with a responsive state and local government and targeted federal support, which will help solidify a promising and competitive future for Pennsylvania for generations."

From December of 1999 to June 2005, sanofi pasteur has added 870 new jobs and invested more than $200 million in capital expansion at the 276-acre campus located in Pocono Township in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Some 1,500 employees currently work at the site, which contains the only injectable influenza vaccine manufacturing facility in the U.S.

The construction of the new influenza plant is part of sanofi pasteur's continued commitment toward reliable planning and production of influenza vaccine, both in the U.S. and abroad. As part of these efforts, the company is participating in a number of important initiatives for pandemic planning, and was awarded four related contracts with the United States government, including a $97 million contract to accelerate the development of cell-culture technology for influenza vaccines.

The Swiftwater site, under various owners, has produced influenza vaccine for 58 years. Today the company manufactures several versions and presentations of Fluzone(R) Influenza Virus Vaccine, including the only influenza vaccine approved for use in the U.S. for children 6 to 35 months of age. In addition to Fluzone vaccine, sanofi pasteur manufactures Vaxigrip(R) Influenza Virus Vaccine at a facility located in Val de Reuil, France, which is licensed for use outside the U.S.

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