GSK Australia opens new facility to reduce global vaccination costs

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Influenza vaccination
A nurse holds a syringe as part of the start of the seasonal influenza vaccination campaign in Nice, southeastern France, October 21, 2015. Reuters/Eric Gaillard

The healthcare company GSK Australia opened on Dec 16 a new facility to test a new method of manufacturing vaccine. The novel production method is aimed to help reduce vaccination costs in developing countries across the world that would allow more children access lifesaving vaccines. 

Assistant Minister for Science Karen Andrews officially opened the new facility in Boronia,  built following a $7.7-million investment by GSK and supported by a $1-million grant under the federal government’s Manufacturing Transition Programme.

“The opening of the facility is a significant initiative for pharmaceutical manufacturing in Australia,” said Geoff McDonald, VP and general manager of GSK Australia. “If successful, it will be the first commercial production of a vaccine delivered using blow-fill-seal technology.”

Blow-fill-seal (BFS) technology is considered an efficient, cost-effective way to manufacture high quality, sterile products at significant volumes. The technology builds a container, fills it with the sterile liquid and seals to keep sterility.

GSK said no other technology does the process with a small production footprint and without requiring a supply chain of aseptic components. A team in Boronia, working with Monash University and vaccine experts from Belgium, developed a new way to use BFS to manufacture a vaccine.

“Putting a vaccine in BFS containers has the potential to deliver the product in a more compact, robust container and it has a much smaller carbon footprint compared to the current methodology,” McDonald said.

GSK has already invested over $100 million in its manufacturing plant in Boronia in the past four years. The site, GSK’s largest in the southern hemisphere, manufactures respiratory products using the BFS.

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