Aspen Pharmacare’s share price rallied as high as 4% to R109.90 on news that it has entered into a preliminary agreement with Johnson & Johnson to manufacture its Covid-19 vaccine candidate.
The mooted deal, announced in a trading update on Monday, will see Aspen work with the Johnson & Johnson owned Janssen Pharmaceuticals and Janssen Pharmaceutica NV to make their Covid-19 vaccine candidate, Ad26.COV2-S.
The vaccine candidate is currently undergoing clinical trials, and Aspen will “perform formulation, filling and secondary packaging of the vaccine for supply to Johnson & Johnson.”
Aspen says it’s not a done deal yet as it is still “subject to the successful completion of the relevant technology transfer activities and finalisation of certain commercial manufacturing terms.”
If it does go ahead, manufacturing will take place at its facility in Port Elizabeth.
“Aspen has invested in excess of R3 billion in the facility containing the high technology equipment and systems that will be used to manufacture state-of-the-art sterile drugs and vaccines, packaged into vials, ampoules and pre-filled syringes.”
Aspen says the production area where the vaccine candidate will be manufactured has the capacity to produce more than 300 million doses per annum. The facility is also accredited by a range of international regulatory authorities and provides medicines to both the domestic and international markets.
The facility was part of the first flagship investments announced at the president’s inaugural South African Investment Conference.