Alan M. Wolf
The News & Observer
January 16, 2009

Swiss drug company Novartis won a $486 million, eight-year contract from the U.S. government to produce a stockpile of bird flu vaccine at its factory under construction in Holly Springs.

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The plant is scheduled to open in 2012 and eventually employ more than 300 people.

Under the contract with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced Thursday morning, the plant will use new technology to produce an annual allotment of bird flu vaccine and seasonal flu vaccine. It also will be able to produce 150 million doses of bird flu vaccine within six months of the declaration of an avian flu pandemic — enough to protect nearly half of the country’s population.

“We believe that this contract award underscores the U.S. government’s commitment to ensure pandemic vaccine supply, and reflects their confidence in Novartis,” Joerg Reinhardt, chief operating officer of Novartis, said in a prepared statement.

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