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NEW DELHI: Vaccine manufacturer Biological E. Ltd on Monday announced the acquisition of Akorn India Ltd, a subsidiary of US-based Akorn Inc, for an undisclosed fee, providing a boost to the Hyderabad-based company’s manufacturing capacity as it prepares to mass produce two vaccine candidates, including that of Johnson & Johnson.

Akorn India’s 14-acre campus facility at Paonta Sahib in Himachal Pradesh has a sterile injectable plant which can manufacture about 135 million units annual capacity and has the potential to immediately expand by a further 30 million units, Biological E said.

“The timing of this acquisition is fortuitous as it will immediately allow us to expand our capacity to manufacture our investigational covid-19 vaccine. With these capacities, we would be in a position to offer over 1 billion doses per annum," Biological E Managing Director Mahima Datla said.

The company did not disclose financial details of the transaction.

For Akorn Inc, the company had been trying to sell the facility for over a year. In its 2019 annual report, Akorn had said it was continuing to “to explore strategic alternatives for exiting our Paonta Sahib, Himachal Pradesh, India manufacturing facility".

The facility was not US FDA approved and was not manufacturing any products for sale, as per the annual report. The plant can produce cephalosporins, carbapenems, hormones and general injectables.

Biological E also has facilities in Hyderabad, which can produce more than a million doses a day, a spokesperson said.

The company said that it may be able to use Akorn India’s plant for commercial scale manufacturing of vaccines at the appropriate time.

Biological E had last week entered into an agreement with Janssen Pharmaceutica NV, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, for manufacturing of drug substance and finished product of the US-based company’s covid-19 vaccine candidate. Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine candidate is currently in Phase 1 and 2 clinical trials.

The company had also announced a licensing agreement for further development of a safe, effective and affordable recombinant protein-based covid-19 vaccine candidate which is currently being developed at US-based Baylor College of Medicine.

Johnson & Johnson is evaluating one- and two-dose regimens for its vaccine candidate and post approval aims to meet its goal to supply more than one billion doses globally through the course of 2021. The vaccine candidate is a non-replicating viral vector, which is expected to be given in two doses with a gap of two months.

Baylor’s RBD protein-based vaccine is currently in pre-clinical trial stage.

Apart from vaccines, Biological E’s acquisition will also help the company scale up capacity of its speciality generic injectable business in pharmaceuticals, which it had started in 2013. The company’s US operations were started last year out of Cary in North Carolina, US through its subsidiary BE Pharmaceuticals Inc.

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