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North American Vaccine is expanding It pays $25 million for nearby plant to handle increase in production

North American Vaccine, a Beltsville biotechnology company, said yesterday it has a definitive agreement to buy a manufacturing building from Cephalon, Inc. for $25 million.

The facility will give North American critically needed space to expand its vaccine production.

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The space is needed because North American is beginning the commercial production of a whooping cough vaccine for European markets. The company is seeking the approval of the Food and Drug Administration to sell the vaccine in the United States.

The company also is working toward commercial production of a line of vaccines to prevent meningitis.

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"It is right across the street from us," said Sharon Mates, the company's president. "We can walk in and turn on the lights."

The facility was used by Cephalon to produce a drug called Myotrophin for the treatment of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly known as Lou Gerhig's disease. The drug will now be manufactured at Chiron Corp. in a California manufacturing facility.

"It is really a great advantage to us," Mates said. "We know the facility very well."

The company will pay part of the cost of the building in cash and a second part by assuming obligations of Cephalon's payments to others.

Mates said North American Vaccine, a publicly traded company with revenues of $3 million last year, would begin production in the 35,000-square-foot facility almost immediately.

Pub Date: 10/19/96



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