Aspen shares rally after striking Covid-19 vaccine deal

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Aspen Pharmacare's [JSE:APN] share price rose by 4.5% in early morning trade following the announcement of its agreement with Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies for the technical transfer and proposed commercial manufacture of their Covid-19 vaccine candidate, Ad26.COV2-S.

The group's shares were trading at R109.70 at 11:00. 

Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc and Janssen Pharmaceutica NV are subsidiaries of US multinational Johnson & Johnson.

The Durban-headquartered drug manufacturer said in a statement on Monday that the vaccine candidate is currently undergoing clinical trials. Aspen Pharmacare will perform formulation, filling and secondary packaging of the vaccine candidate to supply Johnson & Johnson.

Aspen said it has agreed to provide the necessary capacity required for the manufacture of the vaccine candidate at its existing sterile facility in Port Elizabeth. The group said it has invested over R3 billion in the facility that will be used to manufacture state-of-the-art sterile drugs and vaccines, packaged into vials, ampoules and pre-filled syringes.

"The production area where it is intended that the vaccine candidate will be manufactured has capacity to produce more than 300 million doses per annum," it said. 

The company's share price has been on an upward trajectory since mid-March when Aspen announced it is ramping up its drug production to prepare for Covid-19 demand.

In June, the pharma group said it would increase production of dexamethasone, a generic anti-inflammatory drug that was found to help critically ill Covid-19 patients.  

 
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