Vectura leans into new role as inhalation CDMO post-asthma flop with plant expansion
Two years after its leading asthma therapy flopped in a Phase III study, the UK’s Vectura switched gears to focus on manufacturing inhalable drugs for other biopharma companies. Now, it’s doubling down on that manufacturing angle with a new expansion at its UK production facilities.
Vectura unveiled this week an expansion of its capabilities to handle and develop highly potent active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) at its headquarters in Chippenham, England. The project will include installing six new containment isolators, which will house development manufacturing equipment for dispensing, blending, co-milling, jet-milling, spray-drying and blister-fill packaging — turning the facility into a newly-modeled product development manufacturing lab.
Geraldine Venthoye, Vectura’s CSO and EVP of product development, told Endpoints News the company was working on a number of infrastructure and continuous improvement projects to strengthen its capacity as a CDMO.
“One of them, this containment project, means we will be able to safely handle potent drug substances with fewer time-consuming restrictions — and work with a greater range of molecules that could ultimately help more patients,” Venthoye said.
Vectura did not share details on the price of the project.
The new facility will allow Vectura scientists to safely handle APIs with an occupational exposure limit as low as 0.1 µg/m3, the company said in a press release. The isolators will allow flexible setup of equipment within them, allowing for more flexibility in the company’s inhaled-drug development projects. Installation and validation of all equipment is projected to be finished in the coming months.
“We obviously cannot predict what opportunities and molecules might come our way, but we will be ready to be able to offer customers this service very early in 2021,” Venthoye said.
Vectura’s shift towards drug production began in 2018 after the company decided to ax its wholly-owned asthma therapy after it failed a pivotal Phase III study for asthma. Researchers used a nebulizer to deliver doses of budesonide to patients, but the positive trend line they cited for VR475, the drug regimen on trial, never hit statistical significance against a placebo.
Vectura’s drug development partners include Hikma, Novartis, Sandoz (a division of Novartis AG), Mundipharma, Kyorin, GSK, Bayer, Chiesi, Almirall, and Tianjin KingYork.