Australian manufacturing innovation starts pilot with the hope it could reduce cost of vaccination in developing world

- Assistant Minister for Science Karen Andrews opens new vaccine facility in Boronia, Victoria
- GSK awarded $1 million Federal Government grant for advanced manufacturing project
- Three-year pilot to test commercialisation

GSK Australia today opened a new pilot vaccine facility at its Boronia site to manufacture a vaccine testing a new production method developed by an Australian-led team.  If successful, it is hoped the new method could help to reduce overall vaccination costs which could help more children in developing countries access potentially life saving vaccines . 

The facility, which was officially opened by Assistant Minister for Science Karen Andrews, was built following a $7.7 million investment by GSK and supported by a $1 million grant through the Federal Government’s Manufacturing Transition Programme.

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

At significant volumes, blow-fill-seal (BFS) technology is an efficient, cost effective way to manufacture high quality, sterile products.  In a single process, BFS technology forms the container, fills it with the sterile liquid then seals the container to maintain a high assurance of sterility. No other technology does this with such a small production footprint and without the need for a supply chain of aseptic components.

The local team in Boronia, working in partnership with Monash University and global vaccine experts in Belgium, has developed a ground-breaking 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,“ added Mr McDonald.

The pharmaceutical industry is the second-largest exporter of manufactured goods in Australia.  In 2014, Australian “medicinal and pharmaceutical products” exports totalled $2.923 billion.  With GSK Australia’s exports at $437m for the 2014 calendar year, it represented about 15 per cent of the industry’s total exports. 

“Our industry operates in a highly competitive environment internationally, and Government grants such as the Federal Government’s Manufacturing Transition Programme have an important role to play in improving Australia’s attraction for investment.

“GSK and the pharmaceutical industry are significant contributors to the Australian economy and play an important role in building a strong, innovative environment, which provides economic benefits, exports and highly-skilled jobs. 

“Australia boasts world-class research infrastructure and a strong pharmaceutical manufacturing capability.  These strengths make Australia an attractive environment for investment by the pharmaceutical and biotechnology sectors especially when paired with supportive government programs and policies,” Mr McDonald added.

During the past four years GSK has invested more than $100 million in its manufacturing plant in Boronia. It is GSK’s largest site in the southern hemisphere and predominantly manufactures respiratory products using the specialised advanced manufacturing process BFS. GSK exports approximately 75 per cent of the medicines manufactured in Australia to 58 countries across Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

GSK is a leading healthcare company which has been providing high quality medicines, vaccines and over-the-counter healthcare products in Australia since 1886.

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Enquiries

Bernadette Murdoch, Communications Director Australasia, Phone: +61 449 950 745

Additional notes

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) - is a global research-based pharmaceutical and healthcare company. Since 1886 we have delivered the highest quality medicines, vaccines and over-the-counter healthcare products to Australians while investing in local research and providing skilled jobs. For further information please visit www.au.gsk.com.

GSK has two manufacturing facilities in Australia. Pharmaceutical products are manufactured in Boronia on the outskirts of Melbourne. It is one of GSK’s largest sterile facilities globally and includes two Relenza lines and innovative blow-fill-seal technology.

The GSK site at Ermington, in north-western Sydney, manufactures consumer products.