Microbix Appoints CEO and Chairman of its New Vaccine Joint Venture in China
Former GSK and Merieux Executives To Lead Team in Building and Operating Asia's Largest Vaccine Production Facility
TORONTO, Jan. 18 /CNW/ - Microbix Biosystems Inc. (TSX: MBX), a biotechnology company commercializing novel technologies for influenza vaccine manufacturing and livestock semen sexing, in addition to a core business of virology products, today named the management leaders for the Hunan/Microbix Joint Venture which will build and operate Asia's largest influenza vaccine production facility. The team will be led by Chris Baron, CEO, a former GSK and Novartis executive responsible for international vaccines. Baron also established and led GSK's joint venture that is now the largest foreign vaccine manufacturer in China. Jacques-Francois Martin, who will be Chairman, brings 30 years of worldwide vaccine and pharma management experience to the China venture.
The new CEO, Chris Baron said, "I am delighted and privileged to participate in this exciting investment in Changsha, China. The health and economic benefits of influenza vaccination are extremely well documented globally, and I look forward to working with our partners to provide Hunan Province self-sufficiency with a truly world class vaccine. This investment will also further enhance innovation in this fast growing region of China." Jacques-Francois Martin, the joint venture's Chairman, said, "I'm proud to be part of what will be the largest and most far-reaching public health initiative ever in Asia. It will bring China closer to the WHO guidelines for vaccination."
In December, Microbix announced that the Hunan/Microbix joint venture will have start-up capital of more than $7 million to begin the three-phase development of the 120 million-dose influenza vaccine facility. For Phase 2 the joint venture will require approximately $50 million to build the initial 20 million dose plant. Microbix and Hunan will jointly raise these funds to complete construction of the manufacturing facility, and provide material for clinical trials. In Hunan, Microbix has a committed joint venture partner that has demonstrated it will manage the local issues to support the success of the vaccine project.
Microbix, CEO, William J. Gastle, said, "We've combined an outstanding management team, with strong financial resources and our innovative vaccine production technology to build the most advanced vaccine facility in the world. This joint venture will serve public health needs in China and potentially throughout Asia and will reward Microbix and its shareholders with strong returns on investment."
Baron and Martin, with their years of vaccine expertise and experience in China, have already begun recruiting an experienced team of international vaccine and pharmaceutical managers to the Hunan/Microbix Joint Venture, including a global supply-chain expert; and a former CEO of a Chinese pharma company with experience building three large plants in China, and gaining Chinese regulatory approval for manufacturing and marketing pharmaceutical products.
Hunan/Microbix Joint Venture Management
Chris Baron, CEO, is a specialist in the international pharmaceutical and vaccines industry. He has served as Vice President, Global Business Development for Chiron Vaccines (now Novartis), at that time a business with $800 million in sales and 3,000 employees worldwide. Since leaving Chiron he has been operating a consulting business advising various companies on China market entry strategies. Baron had a long career at GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) serving as General Manager in Taiwan, New Zealand and China respectively. He also led Worldwide Business Development at GSK Biologicals (based in Belgium) and served as Director, Business Development, Asia Pacific (based in Singapore). At GSK, Baron led the team that negotiated and created GSK Biologicals (Shanghai) Limited, the first foreign equity joint venture in the field of vaccines in China. He then served as General Manager and Board Director for the joint venture that is now 100% owned by GSK and is the leading foreign vaccine manufacturer in China. Baron was also instrumental in GSK's acquisition of Sachsiche Serum Werke (SSW) - a German flu vaccine manufacturer based in Dresden that is now GSK's global manufacturing site for flu vaccines.
Jacques-Francois Martin, Chairman, is former CEO of Pasteur-Mérieux-Connaught (now Sanofi-Pasteur) and Chiron Vaccines (now Novartis vaccines), and a senior officer in Merieux, once the global leader in vaccine production. He has served on the boards of several prestigious national and international medical foundations, including: the Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale, (the French National Institute of Health), the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI), and the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization. He was formerly President and CEO of The Vaccine Fund, a foundation providing lifesaving vaccines and other immunization program support to low-income countries. In addition, Dr. Martin was a founding partner of Pelias AG, a company launched with Intercell and Novartis to develop vaccines against hospital-associated infections. And, most recently, Chairman and CEO of Parteurop, a biotech consulting company.
About the Hunan/Microbix Joint Venture
Last year, Microbix announced it signed a joint venture agreement with the Hunan Biopharmaceutical Co. Ltd. (a Hunan Province state-owned enterprise) for initial financing to construct Asia's largest influenza vaccine production facility and the third largest vaccine plant in the world. The facility, for which construction will begin in 2011 and be fully operational by 2014, will be designed around Microbix VIRUSMAX™ vaccine technology. More than five years in development at Microbix, VIRUSMAX is designed to increase influenza vaccine yields and has demonstrated an average yield increase of two-fold over current production methods.
About Microbix Biosystems
Microbix Biosystems Inc. specializes in the development of biological technologies and commercializing them through global partners. The Company has intellectual property in large market biotherapeutic drugs, vaccine technologies and animal reproduction technologies. Established in 1988, Microbix is headquartered in Toronto.
This press release contains forward-looking statements which are subject to risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those set forth in the forward-looking statements including the risks associated with operations in Foreign jurisdictions, risks associated with construction generally and with specialized construction requirements of a influenza vaccine facility, risks associated with production including control over costs, quality, quantity and timeliness of delivery of products, foreign currency and exchange rate risk, and risks of raising capital on acceptable terms or at all. These forward-looking statements represent the Companies' judgment as of the date of this press release. The Company disclaims any intent or obligation to update these forward-looking statements.For further information:
Visit www.microbix.com or contact: William J. Gastle, CEO, (416) 234-1624 x 230; or James Long, CFO, (416) 234-1624 x 265.