GlaxoSmithKline yesterday said it has bought ID Biomedical, a vaccines specialist, for $1.7 billion Canadian dollars – marking yet another significant investment in this sector and an additional stride by the company into the influenza field. Earlier this month, it acquired a facility from Wyeth which it said would be used “ to help develop the next generation of vaccines" particularly in flu [[02/09/05c]], while earlier this year it bought out long-term US vaccines partner Corixa Corp for $300 million [[03/05/05c]]. Furthermore, GSK this month won US Food and Drug Administration approval to market its own flu vaccine Fluarix, in time for the 2005-2006 ‘flu season [[01/09/05b]].

With the growing threat of a flu pandemic, pharmaceutical companies are keen to beef up their presence in the vaccines sector. Novartis too has recently put in an offer for Chiron Corp, which would provide the Swiss giant with a healthy vaccines business, as well as ownership of its blood testing and biopharmaceuticals units [[07/09/05e]].

ID Biomedical has facilities in the USA and Canada; the latter is being upgraded and – beginning 2007 – is expected to produce around 75 million doses per year of its flu vaccine Fluviral. Under the terms of the deal, ID shareholders will receive $35 Canadian dollars per share, a 13% premium over the closing share price on September 6.

The transaction, which has already been approved by both companies’ shareholders, is expected to close by the end of 2005, early 2006. Jean-Pierre Garnier said: “The proposed acquisition of ID Biomedical is a unique strategic opportunity to increase current capacity of classic flu vaccines, to provide us with increased capacity for next-generation flu vaccines under development and to help GSK prepare for the threat of a flu pandemic.”