South Africa Pharma News: Afrigen’s partnership with US NIH, BioNTech’s Efforts to Bring mRNA Manufacturing to Africa and Ascendis Health’s Deal with Austell Pharmaceuticals for its Pharma Division


Some of the top pharma news coming out of South Africa including Afrigen’s partnership with US National Institutes of Health (NIH), BioNTech’s efforts to bring an mRNA start-to-finish vaccine manufacturing network to Africa and Ascendis Health’s deal with Austell Pharmaceuticals for its pharma division.


Afrigen partners with US National Institutes of Health (NIH) on mRNA vaccine (Reuters)

Afrigen, the South African biotech startup that was the first to use Moderna’s publicly available COVID-19 vaccine sequence to make its own version, announced that it will collaborate with U.S. government researchers to develop mRNA vaccines and therapeutics.

This agreement will allow for the sharing of scientific expertise with the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) to help Afrigen produce mRNA vaccines against COVID-19 and other diseases. The news comes after Afrigen was chosen by the World Health Organization (WHO) as part of a consortium of South African companies to provide poor and middle-income countries technology to make mRNA COVID vaccines.

As part of the partnership, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) will help Afrigen advance towards its vaccine’s first clinical trial. In addition, the partnership will also use the technology to study vaccines for cancer and other diseases.


African Development Bank to boost manufacturing with Foundation for Pharmaceutical Technology (ecom News Afrique)

The the African Development Bank’s board of directors has endorsed the creation of the African Foundation for Pharmaceutical Technology, an institution that will improve Africa’s access to manufacturing technologies for vaccines and other pharmaceuticals.

“Africa must equip itself with a health defense system, based on three main areas: the revival of the African pharmaceutical industry, the strengthening of African vaccine manufacturing capacities and the establishment of health care infrastructures. quality in Africa,” said African Development Bank Group President Akinwumi Adesina.

The foundation is set to open new horizons for Africa, where 70 percent of all medicines are imported, acting as an intermediary to promote and negotiate the interests of the African pharmaceutical industry with multinational pharmaceutical companies and encouraging local production projects.

The African Development Bank has made a commitment to dedicate at least USD 3 billion over the next 10 years to the manufacturing of pharmaceuticals and vaccines on the continent, as part of its pharmaceutical action plan “Vision 2030”.


South Africa’s Adcock Ingram overlooked in health department’s antiretroviral tender in favor of Indian companies (Business Day)

In spite of the South African government’s declared localization goal, the country’s department of health awarded half of its antiretroviral tender to companies in India, overlooking national company Adcock Ingram. The decision on the tender, which is awarded by the department of health every three years for the ARV drugs used by the state in the world’s largest HIV treatment programme, was questioned by the local pharmaceutical industry.


Ascendis Health sells pharma business to Austell (IOL)

Ascendis Health has reached agreement to sell its pharma business to Austell Pharmaceuticals, another South African company, for ZAR 410 million, a deal it says will reduce its debt and allow for growth.

The Austell transaction is conditioned by a joint venture between Pharma-Q and Imperial not receiving the required shareholder support and both the Austell and Pharma-Q/Imperial transactions will now be proposed to shareholders for approval.

Ascendis, a distributor of both prescription and over-the-counter drugs with brands in a number of therapeutic areas, claimed that the long-term financial sustainability of the company was a priority and through the transaction it would reduce debt.  Ascendis’ pharma division’s net asset value, according to unaudited interim results, was ZAR 117 million.


BioNTech’s ambitious African vaccine manufacturing initiative to extend to South Africa (Company website)

BioNTech has launched its efforts to bring an mRNA start-to-finish vaccine manufacturing network to Africa with an initial site in Kigali, Rwanda and future facilities to be built in Senegal and South Africa.

At an opening ceremony that hosted three African presidents and the director of the World Health Organization (WHO), the company broke ground on a site in Kigali, Rwanda, from where it will launch the ambitious effort. By the end of this year, BioNTech said it would ship the first of two “BioNTainers” to the Rwanda site, which will employ a staff of 100 by 2024.

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