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Pfizer Animal Health opens new R&D center in Louvain-la-Neuve

Pfizer Animal Health inaugurates new research and development centre at Louvain-la-Neuve focused on vaccines for emerging infectious diseases

Investment of 22 million euros expands veterinary medicine research and development laboratory and pilot manufacturing facility.

Louvain-la-Neuve, 10 October 2012 – Pfizer Animal Health today inaugurated an expanded research and development centre for vaccines to protect against emerging infectious diseases in animals at its Louvain-la-Neuve site in Belgium. The opening, which marked the culmination of a 22 million euro investment in the centre, was celebrated with an official opening ceremony which took place in the presence of Mr Rudy Demotte, Minister-President of the Wallonia Region and the Wallonia-Brussels Federation.

The Pfizer Animal Health first opened its research and development centre at Louvain-la-Neuve in April 2008 and began construction in 2011 of this new expanded centre which includes a development laboratory and pilot manufacturing facility. The 1,300 m² surface of the new manufacturing plant accommodates a self-contained research, development and production line for new antigens. It offers efficiency and flexibility to deliver batches of vaccines in the development stage and to produce large quantities of vaccines for pandemic emerging disease.

The new fully-equipped development laboratory at the site is dedicated to vaccine analysis methods. Its mission is to develop new vaccines, analyse the results of clinical trials and develop control procedures. This laboratory is already fully operational. The research and development centre will be operational by the end of this year, after qualification procedures and approval by the Public Health authorities.

“The emergence of infectious diseases that have recently affected livestock animals in Europe such as bluetongue disease can threaten animal health and be potentially devastating to the livelihood of farmers,” said Catherine Knupp, vice president, Veterinary Research and Development, Pfizer Animal Health. “Pfizer Animal Health is committed to supporting the veterinary community with high-quality, effective vaccines to rapidly respond to and help control emerging  infectious diseases in animals.  Our enhanced capabilities in Louvain-la-Neuve will enable us to provide a unique solution to the evolving and complex threat of emerging infectious disease in Europe.” 

Working even more effectively to combat emerging infectious diseases

“The Pfizer Animal Health pilot plant at Louvain-la-Neuve incorporates research, development and production of new products and manufacturing processes,” said Christian Borgniet site leader at Louvain-la-Neuve. "Our research and development centre is state-of-the-art for the development and production of large quantities of vaccines in order to respond quickly to demand in case of pandemic emerging disease. It has been designed to meet the most stringent applicable standards of biological safety and security for the handling of live biological agents.”

The pandemics that have recently affected Europe, such as the H1N1 flu, bluetongue disease and the Schmallenberg virus have demonstrated the importance of treating sources of infection rapidly and highlighted that it is essential that vaccines are rapidly developed and produced in large quantities. 

According to Borgniet, Pfizer Animal Health employs 220 people at the site. Thirteen new functions have already been created as a result of the establishment of the new centre. “At our Louvain-la-Neuve site, we have a mix of chemists, biologists, engineers, pharmacists, laboratory technicians and others. Having all these competencies together on a single site means that we can optimise our research, development and production activities,” he said.  

Effective partnerships

As part of its research and development program, Pfizer Animal Health cooperates with various universities in Belgium and abroad as well as with other players active in research and development in the field of veterinary medicine. In Belgium these include Liège University (ULg), Ghent University (UGent) and the Catholic University of Leuven (KUL). At the same time Pfizer Animal health works very closely with Belgian institutions such as Dierlijke Gezondheidszorg Vlaanderen and ImmuneHealth in Wallonia. 

About Pfizer Louvain-la-Neuve

Pfizer Louvain-la-Neuve is a production site in the area of biotechnology and aseptic procedures. It specialises in the production and distribution of vaccines for pets and productive livestock and currently provides employment for 220 people. Pfizer Louvain-la Neuve covers an area of 50,000 m².

Finished products manufactured at Louvain-la-Neuve are distributed throughout all countries of the European Community, the United States and Brazil, as well as in an increasing number of new markets. 

The Louvain-la-Neuve site has been home to a veterinary vaccine development centre since 2008. This is Pfizer’s only centre of this type in Europe. Its role is to accelerate the development, registration and putting on the market of new vaccines. At that time it covered an area of 360 m² over three floors, where new products were developed as well as processes to prepare, fill and freeze-dry vaccines. The building housing the new research and development centre for vaccines against emerging infectious diseases, and the new laboratory dedicated to vaccine analysis methods, cover now a total of 1.647 square meters (on four floors). 

About Pfizer Belgium 

Approximately 2,600 people are employed by Pfizer Belgium in research, production, distribution and sales of medicines for human and veterinary use. These activities are distributed over five sites in Anderlecht, Ixelles, Louvain-la-Neuve, Puurs and Zaventem.