Catalent increases capacity in Italy for J&J’s COVID vaccine

Catalent will add a high-speed vial-filling line to increase its manufacturing capacity for J&J’s single-shot COVID-19 vaccine.

The expanded partnership will see contract development manufacturing organization (CDMO) Catalent add an additional high-speed vial-filling line at its site in Anagni, Italy. The line is set to be operational by the fourth quarter of 2021 and support the making of Johnson & Johnson’s (J&J) COVID-19 vaccine throughout 2022.

The CDMO said the increase in its manufacturing capacity at the 300,000 square-foot Italian production plant includes inspection, packaging services and labelling. Previously, the agreement saw Catalent dedicate an existing vial-filling line to J&J at this site.

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“The new high-speed vial-filling lines in our Anagni, Italy and Bloomington, Indiana manufacturing plants are capable of filling up to 400 vials per minute, which ultimately has the potential to fill tens of millions of multi-dose vials per year,” a Catalent spokesperson told BioProcess Insider.

According to the firm, Anagni has a successful track record in launching commercial products and technical transfers. The site “offers extensive capabilities in aseptic liquid filling for biologics and sterile products,” as well as fill-finish services and serialization.

“There will be no impact on other products or manufacturing operations at Anagni with this expansion, as the new line will be dedicated to the J&J vaccine,” the spokesperson said. “We expect to hire additional staff as needed to support the production once the line is operational.”

Large-scale operations

Last April, Catalent announced its site in Bloomington, Indiana will provide large-scale fill-finish services for J&J’s COVID-19 vaccine supply chain in the US and the site is still delivering this service.

In the same month, the firm completed a $14 million expansion at its Bloomington site, which added 15,000 square feet of packaging infrastructure, five new packaging suites and a new quality control laboratory. And in 2018, the firm announced plans to invest around $100 million to double fill and finish capacity at the site and said part of this investment would be dedicated to the J&J program.

This month, Catalent refuted claims reported by the Financial Times that it had production problems at any of its facilities which would slow down J&J’s US vaccine rollout and said it is on track to meet all of its commitments to J&J.