Beefing up its new gene therapy unit, Catalent inks $18M deal to snap up Novavax facilities
Catalent’s hunt for rapid growth on the gene therapy front — cemented with a $1.2 billion acquisition of Paragon Biosciences two months ago — has led them to the vaccine makers at Novavax.
With an $18 million payment, Paragon is taking over two Novavax sites in Gaithersburg, MD, including more than 100 of the employees already working there. That’s in addition to a significant reduction in operating costs, says the company, as Novavax shifts to rely on Paragon for GMP materials in clinical trials and, eventually, commercial supply of their products.
Novavax could use the cash. Not only is it requested by the FDA to conduct a whole new Phase III trial to confirm that ResVax can protect infants from medically significant RSV disease if their mothers were vaccinated — the only silver lining from an otherwise failed Phase III — the company also wants to spend on another late-stage flu vaccine program.
The candidate, NanoFlu, is now on track to access the accelerated approval pathway at the FDA, Novavax added. A Phase III is slated to begin in Q3 pending clinical trial design discussions with regulators.
“This alliance is a true win-win-win for Paragon, Novavax and our employees,” CEO Stanley Erck said in a statement.
For Catalent, this means more firepower as it revs up its production engine to keep up with a burgeoning gene therapy field. Pete Buzy of Paragon highlighted Novavax’s “very strong team of experts” as key to accelerating their strategy and rapid growth.
Expected to close within a month, the transactions also follow a separate deal in which the CDMO bought out Bristol-Myers Squibb’s central launchpad for new therapies in Europe, acquiring a complex in Italy and scooping up some 700 staffers with plans to expand right away.