With US Gov contract, Evonik ploughs $220m into Indiana lipid plant

Evonik’s lipid manufacturing facility in Lafayette, Indiana will service demand from the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) for mRNA-based therapies beyond COVID-19 vaccines.

Evonik’s second largest site in the US will benefit from a lipid manufacturing facility. Construction is set to begin in early 2023, with the plant expected to be operational by 2025.

Of the $220 million being invested in Tippecanoe, $150 million will come from the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) division BARDA to ensure supply of raw materials for mRNA vaccines.

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“The US-government has priority access and most favored customer pricing for a 10-year period in case of a declared public health emergency by the Secretary of HHS,” Evonik spokeswoman Julia Born told BioProcess Insider regarding the deal.

However, she did not comment on specific capacity of the new plant and the amount dedicated to BARDA.

“The new plant has sufficient capacity to meet the global demand for excipients needed to produce medicines for the world population,” she said. “In case of a future pandemic, the production capacity can be upscaled to supply lipids globally in a short period of time. Beyond pandemic situations, the facility is highly flexible in scale to serve the needs of various application fields, such as cancer immunotherapy.”

Around 80 new jobs will be added to the 650-large workforce at Tippecanoe.

The Germany-headquarter chemical and drug delivery tech company is no stranger to lipid supply, having produced lipids – a component in the formulation of nucleic acid therapies and vaccines – to support the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine among others during the pandemic.

But despite a potential drop in production of COVID-19 vaccines as the virus abates, demand for lipids and mRNA materials will remain high, according to Born.

“The pipelines of many pharma companies are filled with new development projects. We expect those new therapies to receive approval in a few years from now. With the Tippecanoe site coming on stream in 2025, Evonik is right in time to fuel the growth of mRNA and other nucleic acids therapies in the fields of infectious diseases, cancer immunotherapy and gene therapy.”