SK Chemicals said Monday it would export independently developed cell-culture vaccine production technology to multinational pharma giant Sanofi Pasteur, in a licensing agreement estimated to reach $155 million.
|An SK Chemical employee produces flu vaccine using a culture tank at its L House Plant in Andong, North Gyeongsang Province.|
The vaccine production technology differs from existing methods by using animal cells that enable a quick and efficient production process, according to SK Chemicals.
Sanofi will pay $15 million upfront at the signing of the technology export contract, $20 million after completing the technology transfer and the other $120 million in additional milestone payments. SK Chemicals will also gain a certain percentage of royalties on sales of commercialized products.
The technology transfer and licensing agreement are estimated to be one of the largest vaccine technology exports by a Korean firm, according to SK Chemicals.
“We are pleased to have ushered in innovative technology licenses,” said David Loew, CEO of Sanofi Pasteur. “We are one step closer to our goal of developing a universal flu vaccine.”
Sanofi Pasteur will apply SK Chemicals’ vaccine production technology to develop its next-generational, universal flu vaccine that protects against a variety of mutated viruses through targeting a common base sequence between viruses. The French pharmaceutical giant currently develops vaccines to prevent against around 20 types of diseases and supplies them to more than 500 million people worldwide.
Meanwhile, SK Chemicals said it aims to solidify its position in the domestic market through an array of premium vaccines produced at the L HOUSE, one of the world’s top vaccine factories located in Andong, North Gyeongsang Province. SK Chemicals has invested 400 billion won ($369 million) in vaccine development since 2008, it said.
“The [licensing agreement] is a result of strategically focusing on developing premium vaccines based on innovative technology and proves the technological prowess of domestic vaccines is on par with global standards,” SK Chemicals President Park Mahn-hoon said.
SK Chemicals used the vaccine production technology to launch a trivalent cell-culture flu vaccine in 2015 and to commercialize the world’s first quadrivalent cell-culture flu vaccine in 2016. SKY Cellflu exceeded cumulative sales of 14 million doses within three years of launch, according to the company.
The recent licensing and technology export agreement follows joint development between SK and Sanofi for a next-generation pneumococcal vaccine.
SK Chem is also developing a typhoid vaccine with the International Vaccine Institute through research development support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The company is also participating in developing a new rotavirus vaccine with global institution Program for Appropriate Technology in Health.