Please note that Microbix will hold a news conference today at 11 a.m. at
the Ivey-ING Leadership Centre, The Exchange Tower, 130 King St. West,
TORONTO, June 23 /CNW/ - Canadian company Microbix Biosystems Inc.
(TSX:MBX), located in Toronto, announced today that it has entered into a
definitive agreement with the Hunan Provincial Government to establish a
manufacturing facility in China that will produce influenza vaccine using
Microbix' VIRUSMAX(TM) technology.
Jointly owned by Microbix and the Hunan Provincial Government, the
$200-million facility will be one of the largest influenza vaccine plants in
the world. It is expected to be operational in 2013 and will have a capacity
to produce 100 million doses of flu vaccine a year.
The manufacturing plant will be located in the Hunan Liuyang Biomedical
Industrial Park in Hunan Province, population 70 million, near the capital
city of Changsha. The facility will incorporate Microbix' proprietary
The signing of the agreement was the centerpiece announcement at the 2008
National Bioindustry Convention in Changsha this past weekend. William J.
Gastle, CEO of Microbix, was accompanied by a delegation of Canadian and
Chinese Government officials.
Mr. Gastle also announced at the event that, as a token of goodwill and
friendship, Microbix will be making a gift to the Chinese people. The company
will commission a full-scale replica of Dr. Norman Bethune's childhood home in
Gravenhurst, Ontario. The house will be erected on the grounds of the vaccine
facility in Changsha. Dr. Bethune is revered in China for saving the lives of
thousands of its citizens through his personal sacrifice, innovation and
leadership in medicine.
China is one of the largest countries in the world that currently does
not have domestic manufacturing capacity to supply its population with
seasonal and pandemic influenza vaccines. Mr. Chen Zhaoxiong, Vice Governor of
Hunan, explained that "currently, only about 2 per cent of the age group most
susceptible to influenza is able to get vaccine in China - compared to 20 per
cent in advanced countries."
Access to VIRUSMAX(TM) is therefore of enormous benefit, especially in
the event of a pandemic, since the technology will enable the new facility to
produce more vaccine in shorter periods of time.
Dr. Marie-Paule Kieny, Director of the World Health Organization's
Initiative for Vaccine Research, stated that "the establishment of this new
state-of-the-art production facility in China is excellent news, as it will
contribute significantly to pandemic vaccine preparedness, both at the global
level and for the Asian region."
Microbix will lead a team of globally-recognized experts in the industry
to design, construct, and operate the facility. It will receive management
fees during the design, development and commissioning phases of the project,
and then will receive royalty payments on sales of vaccine. The company also
has exclusive marketing rights outside China.
Sarah Kutulakos, Executive Director of the Canada China Business Council,
noted that "this is not simply a technology transfer. Microbix will be at the
forefront of this project in all of the stages. This agreement is a model for
other Canadian companies as they look for ways to be more deeply involved in
The joint venture has received a commitment for an initial 100 million
doses from the Province of Hunan. The Hunan Government has also committed
$100 million of the required funding. The balance of the funding is being
raised by Microbix through licensing partners.
Robert Wright, Canadian Ambassador to China, said the two countries
"share a long-lasting historic friendship that has its roots in the medical
field in the story of Dr. Norman Bethune." He added that "with the fast and
continuous improvement of living standards in China, people's awareness of and
demand for influenza vaccine will continue to rise, which will provide a good
environment for the joint venture's influenza vaccine business to grow."
"This new vaccine production facility in China is great news", said Tony
Clement, Canada's Minister of Health. "This partnership between Microbix and
Hunan province will contribute to global pandemic preparedness, and will
strengthen the bonds of friendship between Canada and China."
The State Intellectual Property Office of the People's Republic of China
recently granted Microbix a patent on it VIRUSMAX(TM) technology. Similar
patents are already held in Canada, the U.S., India and Australia, and a
number of other patent applications in major markets are currently pending.
"We've been working for a number of years to bring our technology to
market, so today we're delighted to be partnering with the Province of Hunan
in building and ultimately operating the most modern and efficient flu vaccine
manufacturing facility on the planet," said Mr. Gastle. "This will make China
a leader in the production of flu vaccines, and VIRUSMAX(TM) the technology of
choice in helping other manufacturers in other countries expand their capacity
to meet the needs of their populations."
Microbix 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
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
risks generally associated with commercializing and producing the vaccine in
China; and risks associated with various levels of political and economic
conditions and other risks including but not limited to, currency exchange
rates and restrictions on foreign exchange; high rates of inflation;
renegotiation or nullification of existing licenses, permits and contracts;
changes in taxation policies; risks associated with repatriation of profits
and governmental regulations. These forward-looking statements represent the
judgment of Microbix as of the date of this press release. This press release
is as of June 23, 2008 and Microbix disclaims any intent or obligation to
update these forward-looking statements.
For further information:
For further information: visit www.microbix.com or contact: Mark
Cochran, Lead Director, Acting Chairman of the Board, Microbix Biosystems
Inc., (416) 234-1624 x 330; William J. Gastle, CEO, Microbix Biosystems Inc.,
(416) 234-1624 x 230; Robert Stephens, PR POST, (416) 777-0368