MADRID (Reuters) -Contract drugmaker Rovi is to make active ingredients for Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine, extending an existing agreement to bottle the vaccine using ingredients brought in from Switzerland.
Madrid-based Rovi, whose shares rose 4% on Monday towards a record high set last month, will build capacity to supply active agents for up to 100 million vaccine doses annually for Moderna from its plant in the southern city of Granada via a new production line.
Another Rovi plant near Madrid has already been bottling, or “filling and finishing”, Moderna vaccine ingredients being produced by Swiss drug company Lonza in Switzerland.
“Greater integration in the production process will allow us to support Moderna in its large-scale distribution more broadly,” said Juan Lopez-Belmonte Encina, Rovi’s chief executive officer, who also said the agreement was a significant growth opportunity.
Moderna has said it will make at least 700 million doses of vaccine in 2021, including from plants in Europe and the United States.
Once Rovi has made the drug ingredients in Granada, Moderna will decide whether the active ingredients should be bottled at Rovi in Madrid or a separate facility in France, owned by Sweden’s Recipharm.
Lonza’s output for Moderna has, so far, been shipped from Visp, Switzerland, to Rovi’s Madrid site for fill and finish, for vaccine doses bound for Europe, Canada, South Korea, Britain, Japan and elsewhere outside the United States.
Rovi did not disclose the value of its investment in the Granada production line.
Lonza has said each of its recently built production lines — one is operational, two others are due to begin operating in coming weeks — cost around 70 million Swiss francs ($76 million), with a staff of 60 to 70 employees dedicated to each line.
Rovi shares have jumped about 26% so far this year, based on Refinitiv data. The stock was up 3.8% at 47.9 euros by 1632 GMT, near last month’s 48.4 euros record high.
($1 = 0.9238 Swiss francs)
(Reporting by Emma Pinedo and Inti Landauro in Madrid, John Miller in Zurich, and Aida Pelaez-Fernandez in Gdansk Editing by Ingrid Melander, David Holmes and Jane Merriman)