Croda is to play a vital role in the production of Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine.
The East Yorkshire headquartered specialty chemical company has entered into an agreement with the US giant to supply a new ingredient that carries the active element into the body.
It will be produced at sites in the UK and US.
FTSE-listed Croda, based at Cowick Hall in Snaith, said it has “reprioritised investment, resources and other projects across the group over the last few months to focus on the delivery of this project”.
Steve Foots, chief executive officer, said: “I’m very proud of Croda’s involvement in the battle to fight the most significant pandemic that we have seen in a generation.
“The application of our innovative capabilities is testament to the strong progress we have made to create industry-leading drug delivery systems, focused on developing speciality excipients and adjuvants to improve the effectiveness and stability of complex drug actives and vaccines.
“It is another example of why our Purpose – Smart Science to Improve Lives – sits at the heart of our strategy and will continue to drive our priorities and ambitions in the years ahead.”
The contract with Pfizer runs for five years and awards Croda an initial supply contract for four component excipients – described as the vehicle to transfer the drug – for the first three years of the contract. Demand remains subject to relevant approvals.
On Monday, early results from the world’s first effective coronavirus vaccine were released, showing it could prevent more than 90 per cent of people getting Covid.
Developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, it is one of 11 vaccines in the final stages of testing.
Emergency approval for use is being sought his month, with hopes the first wave of people will get it this year.
The UK has already ordered 40 million doses, enough for 20 million people.
Croda’s recently acquired subsidiary, Alabama-based Avanti Polar Lipids Inc, specialises in the development and production of high-purity lipids, to produce research and clinical trial quantities of excipients in order to stabilise formulations and enable delivery into the body by injection for drug and vaccine applications.
The £1.3b turnover firm’s existing health care business has a 20-year track record in developing IP-rich, innovative technologies for drug delivery systems for the pharmaceutical industry and had been working with Avanti, prior to the acquisition, to refine the complex processes involved in achieving the volumes of high-purity excipients required by its pharmaceutical customers.
Shares surged 11 per cent on the announcement, hitting a record high 6,884p, before settling at a 7 per cent uplift after Tuesday trading, up to 6,660p from a 6,210p opening.
Steve Elliott, chief executive of the Chemical Industries Association, welcomed Croda’s role. He said: “From hand sanitiser to face masks and now vaccine production, it is, yet again, the chemical industry being there when most needed for society.
“The innovation and expertise in Croda International Plc is a fantastic example of what this sector brings to the UK and to the world. As we fight this most serious of battles, let all of us get behind this breakthrough; it is a proud moment for this country’s chemical industry.”