This week, AgriLabs, the largest U.S. animal health marketing and distribution business, announced that it has entered into the vaccine manufacturing business with a new USDA-licensed facility in Lincoln, Nebraska. AgriLabs has also acquired Lincoln-based Antelope Valley Bios and Benchmark Biolabs, and Benchmark's ownership interest of VaxLiant®. With these moves, AgriLabs, along with its new business subsidiaries, now offers complete concept-to-commercialization services for vaccines used in swine, cattle, poultry and other species.
"By adding state-of-the-art manufacturing capabilities to our U.S. marketing and sales operations, we can deliver more value to veterinarians and producers both domestically and worldwide," said Steve Schram, AgriLabs chief executive officer, at a ribbon-cutting event that included several state and city officials. "With the need for alternatives to antibiotics, vaccines are critical to the long term health and efficiency of food animal production," Schram said.
Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts applauded the actions by AgriLabs. "This announcement positions Nebraska for great opportunities in agriculture and bioscience," Gov. Ricketts said. "We appreciate the confidence that AgriLabs has in our state's bioscience research and manufacturing sectors, and its willingness to expand its investment in employees and facilities in these highly regarded areas."
Schram said the expertise of the staff at both Benchmark and Antelope Valley Bios are critical to the research and design and manufacturing functions of the AgriLabs expanded business model. "This is the R&D team and the vaccine manufacturing plant involved in making the first foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) vaccine for cattle which was developed without using a live FMD virus. They also produced the first USDA-approved plant-derived vaccines," he said.
The swine market will be the first target for the new facilities, with a focus on custom-made vaccines. "Practically speaking, our Lincoln facilities and our relationships will allow us to deliver to veterinarians and producers better vaccines quickly, safely and affordably. We also have a platform that will enable the rapid development of vaccines that work," said Sean O'Hare, executive vice president of AgriLabs.
AgriLabs' three fully owned subsidiaries in Lincoln - Antelope Valley Bios, Benchmark Biolabs and VaxLiant - will continue to operate as stand-alone business entities.
"This means customers of each company will see no change in how they currently do business with them," Schram said. "However, an important benefit is that customers - whether small or large - now can have access to experts and other resources. So, whether people are looking for global expertise in securing regulatory licenses for vaccines, or wanting to purchase innovative vaccines that improve animal health, we can help."