- Catalent plans to spend $50 million to install a new high-speed vial filling line at its plant in Bloomington, Indiana. The investment comes as the contract manufacturer works to meet increased demand fueled, in part, by rapid development of coronavirus vaccines.
- The company said it's cutting the usual project time to 10 months from 18, meaning the line should be operational by April 2021.
- The line will be able to produce as many as 80 million vials a year, using barrier isolator technology and a peristaltic pump filling mechanisms, Catalent said.
Demand for vial-filling of biologic drugs has been growing across the biopharma industry, according to Mike Riley, Catalent's region president for biologics in North America. And as drugmakers work at unprecedented speeds to develop treatments and vaccines for COVID-19, the demand has only been "compounded," Riley said in a Sept. 2 statement.
Catalent has quickly become one of the manufacturers-of-choice for experimental coronavirus vaccines. Just last week, the company said it will produce the drug substance for AstraZeneca's candidate, which is currently in Phase 3 testing. That work will take place at Catalent's facility in Harmans, Maryland. The company also had an earlier deal to provide fill and finish services for AstraZeneca at a site in Italy.
The Bloomington plant, meanwhile, has taken on two coronavirus-related projects in recent months. In April, Catalent said it would hire about 300 more workers in there to produce Johnson & Johnson's lead COVID-19 vaccine candidate. Then in June, Catalent agreed to provide vial-filling work for Moderna.
The latest cash infusion marks the third investment in the Bloomington manufacturing facility in two years, including a $200 million project announced in January 2019 for both Bloomington and Madison, Wisconsin. Catalent acquired the 875,000-square-foot plant in with its acquisition of Cook Pharmica in 2017.
By the end of next year, the facility will have high-speed filling capacity for three vial lines and two syringe lines, Catalent said. It will also have a line that could fill vials, syringes or cartridges.