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Contacts: Lauren Newhouse for PATH, 206.285.3500, lnewhouse@path.org; Meng Li for China National Biotec Group, +86.10.8466.3876, mengli@cnbg.com.cn; Lei Zhang for Chengdu Institute of Biological Products, +86.28.8441.8887, gjmyb@cdibp.com.

Partnership will advance research of cost-effective vaccine for the developing world

Seattle, Washington, and Beijing and Chengdu, Sichuan, June 22, 2009—China National Biotec Group (CNBG), the leading vaccine manufacturer in China, and PATH, a US-based nonprofit global health organization, announced today a partnership to speed the development of an effective vaccine at an affordable price to prevent pneumococcal disease. This three-year project will be implemented by Chengdu Institute of Biological Products (CDIBP), a subsidiary of CNBG based in Chengdu, Sichuan, with technical and financial support from PATH.

Pneumonia is the leading killer of children under five years of age worldwide, causing over two million deaths annually, mostly in developing countries. Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococcus), the most common cause of severe pneumonia, kills an estimated one million of these children each year. It has over 90 serotypes, which vary by region, and can cause sepsis (blood infection), meningitis (brain infection), and bacterial otitis media (middle ear infection). Current pneumococcal conjugate vaccines approved for use in children are effective against strains common in the industrialized world and some developing countries, but they do not cover all pneumococcal serotypes, including several strains common in Africa and Asia. They are also expensive, which makes access to vaccines difficult in low-income countries that most urgently need them. More affordable vaccines with broader coverage are needed to ensure global access to vaccines, especially in developing countries.

PATH’s pneumococcal vaccine development portfolio includes a number of approaches to improve vaccine affordability and accessibility in the countries that most urgently need them. In addition to supporting the development of novel vaccines, one of PATH’s key strategies is to accelerate the advancement of low-cost vaccines by improving upon already-established technologies.

“We are delighted to be partnering with CNBG/CDIBP in our efforts to develop a multivalent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine that can meet the needs of the poorest of the poor,” says Dr. Mark Alderson, director of PATH’s Pneumococcal Vaccine Project. “Together, we hope to reduce manufacturing costs by pursuing a candidate that combines proven conjugation methods with new technologies developed by CNBG/CDIBP and other PATH partners. Furthermore, the regional and technical expertise of CNBG/CDIBP, which has successfully marketed a 23-valent polysaccharide pneumococcal vaccine in China, can be leveraged throughout this collaboration as we target strains more common in Asia and Africa.”

“As a state owned vaccine manufacturer, providing safe, effective, and affordable vaccine to improve people’s health is our mission,” says Dr. Wu Yonglin, Managing Director of Chengdu Institute of Biological Products. “Collaboration with PATH on multivalent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine is also a part of our internationalization and technology innovation strategy, the expertise of PATH on public health and vaccine development will help us for the success of this project.”

As part of a global access commitment, PATH and CNBG/CDIBP will design their pneumococcal vaccine candidate to meet the Advance Market Commitment (AMC) requirements, a financing mechanism established by the GAVI Alliance and the World Health Organization to offer vaccine developers incentives to produce vaccines for historically neglected markets mostly in poorer countries. Under the AMC approach, donors commit to procuring vaccine treatments from developers up to a designated quantity at a certain price in order to stimulate industry investment.

PATH and CNBG/CDIBP acknowledge that challenges lie ahead, particularly related to the complex process of conjugate vaccine development, but potential payoffs could be considerable. A successful outcome could provide broad protection and lead to low-cost mass production capabilities that could substantially increase global access to vaccines and save lives in millions from pneumococcal disease in countries where need is greatest.

About CNBG/Chengdu Institute of Biological Products

China National Biotec Group (CNBG), a research driven company with its corporate headquarters in Beijing, is one of the largest vaccine manufacturers in the world and supplies more than 80 percent of vaccines for the China National Immunization Program. CNBG consists of six institutes of biological products in China, including Chengdu Institute of Biological Products (CDIBP), which is the well-known manufacturer of live Japanese Encephalitis (JE) Vaccine (SA14-14-2). CDIBP has contributed a lot in JE prevention and control by supplying more than 400 million doses of JE vaccine to China and other JE endemic countries in the past two decades.

About PATH

PATH is an international nonprofit organization that creates sustainable, culturally relevant solutions that enable communities worldwide to break longstanding cycles of poor health. By collaborating with diverse public- and private-sector partners, PATH helps provide appropriate health technologies and vital strategies that change the way people think and act. PATH’s work improves global health and well-being.