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UPMC Ends Pursuit of Government Vaccine Facility in Pittsburgh

PITTSBURGH, July 1, 2011 – Citing differences in strategy and government delays, UPMC announced today that it will not bid on the federal government’s proposed vaccine development and production facilities.  

“Our strategy was to create an innovative facility fully dedicated to the government’s needs for non-commercial vaccines to protect the nation from bioterrorism and pandemic diseases,” said Robert J. Cindrich, chairman of 21st Century Biodefense (21CB), a subsidiary of UPMC. “Unfortunately, the request for proposals recently released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) cannot be reconciled with that approach and would greatly increase the risks for UPMC.” Specifically, he noted that the HHS request is designed to leverage commercial capacity and includes no guaranteed orders from the government.

In a separate initiative, the U.S. Department of Defense has delayed releasing the final details for its planned vaccine capability, making it impossible to assess the feasibility of that project for 21CB.

“Since we first began planning this effort nearly five years ago, the health care landscape has changed dramatically with health care reform and a recession raising many questions about the financing, costs and operations of our industry,” said Mr. Cindrich. “Thus, after significant investment by UPMC, we believe that it is in the best interest of all of our stakeholders to conclude work on 21CB and to redirect those resources.”

21CB had proposed a partnership with the government to build and operate a new type of vaccine plant in Pittsburgh. The goal was to develop and produce medical countermeasures using a facility that could make multiple vaccines simultaneously and easily switch production from one vaccine to another in response to a public health threat. No such facility currently exists for non-commercial drugs. The Obama Administration and many biosecurity experts expressed strong support for the idea of modernizing and expanding the nation’s countermeasure capacity through a public-private partnership.

“We are proud of our success in focusing public policy on the need for a better means to develop and produce vaccines and medicines to protect the nation from bioterrorism and infectious diseases,” said Mr. Cindrich, who also is senior advisor to UPMC’s president. “UPMC remains committed to strengthening biodefense policy, as evidenced by the work of our internationally recognized Center for Biosecurity, and continues to support the mission to accelerate the development of non-commercial drugs.”

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