Fujifilm is latest to inject funds into vaccine industry

Yesterday saw Fujifilm Corporation, via its US subsidiary Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies, make an undisclosed offer for a 49 per cent stake in Kalon Biotherapeutics, a US-based biological vaccines manufacturer, with an option to purchase all the remaining shares at a later date. Kalon, according to its website, manufactures vaccines to be used as public medical countermeasures against threats such as pandemic influenza, Ebola and Anthrax. This transaction follows on the back of Australian vaccines manufacturer CSL’s acquisition of Novartis AG’s influenza vaccines business for USD 275m.

Public attention is not usually drawn to the world of vaccines and pharmaceuticals until there is a directly perceived health risk. So in the cases of SARS in Asia in 2002 and 2003, Avian flu in 2005 and now Ebola, broader public health concerns typically focus pharma companies' minds on developing drugs and vaccines to deal with these killers. But it’s clear that from a deal making perspective, companies manufacturing vaccines and antidotes, no matter what they are for, are currently generating substantial interest.

2014 has seen 23 deals announced involving companies manufacturing vaccines of some sort, totalling USD 9.5bn compared with 41 deals in 2013 with a total deal value of USD 632 million. The largest deal of 2014 has been the USD 7.1bn acquisition of Novartis AG’s vaccine business by GlaxoSmithKline, but even taking this deal out of the equation, deal values were still higher in 2014 than the previous 5 years.