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Novartis boosts vaccine capacity with Chiron purchase

Novartis boosts vaccine capacity with Chiron purchase
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As governments around the world increase their spending on influenza treatments, the Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis has agreed to buy the 58% of US vaccine maker Chiron that it does not already own.

The price is 4.2 billion euros. That is 500 million euros more than a bid in September that was rejected as inadequate by Chiron. Novartis Chief Executive Daniel Vasella said the new acquisition, which has suffered production problems recently, will require investment.

He said the plan is to turn around Chiron’s vaccines business, spending money on research and development and manufacturing to increase quality and capacity. Novartis and Chiron combined will become the world’s fifth largest drugmaker and the third largest in Europe with projected sales this year of 27.5 billion euros.

Chiron makes vaccines for diseases including rabies, polio, measles and rubella. Earlier this month the US government awarded a contract worth more than 50 million euros to the company to develop an experimental vaccine against the H5N1 strain of the bird flu virus. That is the variant that has killed 62 people so far across Asia.

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