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Drugs deal is worth pounds 28m.

Byline: Ian Mcneal

A drug manufacturer has won a pounds 28m contract to produce a plague vaccine for the USA's war on terrorism, under a deal securing hundreds of jobs on Teesside.

Avecia has been awarded a three-year deal to produce 2,000 trial doses of a protein vaccine which creates immunity to pneumonic plague.

The vaccine will be produced at Avecia's Billingham manufacturing plant, which employs 350, and the contract is one of several awarded by the US Government's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in its fight against bioterrorism.

The deal follows a similar pounds 42m contract awarded by the NIAID to Avecia last year to produce an anthrax vaccine after successful trials.

Avecia chief executive Jeremy Scudamore said: "Selection for this contract reflects Avecia's strength in vaccine development and production technology.

"With significant experience across two major defence vaccine programmes, Avecia is strongly placed in this emerging market sector."

Production will take place at Avecia's pounds 70m biologics manufacturing unit, which began operation at the end of last year.

The plague organism is not used during manufacturing and infection cannot be caused by the process, the company said.

The development of the vaccine will be carried out with UK body Defence Science Technology and Laboratory.

Under the new deal, funding has been provided for pilot manufacture, testing and initial human clinical trials.

Dr Richard Scott, of DSTL, said the vaccine was the most advanced of its kind in fighting biological warfare agents.
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Date:Oct 12, 2004
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