- Mitsubishi Chemical Group on Friday said it is shutting down Medicago, a Canadian subsidiary that worked with GSK to successfully develop a COVID-19 vaccine.
- In a statement, Mitsubishi, Medicago’s sole shareholder, said that it has cut off investment in the company and will wind it down. Though Medicago won approval of its shot in Canada last February, Mitsubishi felt the challenge of ramping up production and selling it wasn’t worth the additional investment.
- As a result, Medicago will no longer market the vaccine, which is known as Covifenz and grown in a plant that is a close relative to tobacco. The company’s liquidation will bring an end to other infectious disease work as well.
Medicago was one of the lesser-known companies in the worldwide race to develop a COVID-19 vaccine. Unlike Pfizer and Moderna, the company developed a “virus-like particle” shot that involved an immune-boosting adjuvant from GSK.
The result was a shot that succeeded in late-stage testing in December 2021 and got to market in Canada a couple months later. But by that time, multiple vaccines were already available, and Medicago still had to scale up manufacturing to compete. What’s more, the shot couldn’t get recognition from the World Health Organization because of the company’s ties to cigarette maker Philip Morris International.
Demand for COVID-19 vaccines has since ebbed as well. Uptake of “bivalent” booster shots, for instance, has flagged in the U.S. Top developers like Pfizer are predicting a revenue decline, too, as sales shift from bulk government contracts to the private market.
In its statement, Mitsubishi cited changes in the landscape for COVID-19 vaccines, as well as the overall economic climate, for its decision.
“Medicago wishes to thank all its employees for their commitment, their passion, and their dedication,” the company said in its own statement. “The Medicago team has pushed scientific boundaries and we know that they will continue to make incredible contributions to innovation and biopharmaceutical’s sector.”
Mitsubishi didn’t specify when it expects to complete the liquidation.