As TrialSite has suggested, a big part of Russia’s renewal strategy involves life science research and development excellence. TrialSite speculates that’s why Russia went ahead and registered the Sputnik V vaccine despite the fact that it has now entered Phase 3 clinical trials in that country involving 40,000 participants, as well as studies in other countries. But a bigger diversification scheme is underway as a key Russian pharmaceutical venture bought a production facility in a small Bavarian (Germany) town called Illertissen. R-Pharm has invested €20 million in this plant alone, reports their manager Ivan Semenov, to produce the Oxford vaccine. Starting in Q1 2021, the Russian firm is gearing up its German capacity to produce 500 million doses per year. Interestingly, according to the German press, this facility will produce AZD1222 for 35 countries, including CIS nations. Not on the list are the EU counties as undoubtedly AstraZeneca carved out that territory for other distribution and, of course, higher price points.
TrialSite’s correspondent in Germany reported on this recent news via Sudwest Presse. Interestingly, Sputnik V, although “registered” and hence the first vaccine approved in the world, is more marketing than material. R-Pharm would like to produce Sputnik V at the Bavarian plant but cannot—it doesn’t yet meet international standards.
Russian Bigger Picture
TrialSite hypotheses that Russia’s registration of Sputnik V was part of a broader business development and marketing strategy to bolster the nation’s life sciences industry. Hence industrial policy was at the heart of this effort.
In Russia and China, for that matter, the life science sector is considered one with national security implications. In the West, PWC reported that the life sciences market forces operate at a high level, however in the “BRICs,” this vitally important sector needed nurturing, incubation, and ongoing care. Sputnik V is evidence of this ongoing industrial policy. And its important as Russia and CIS represent vast populations and markets. With R-Pharm’s quiet takeover of the Bavarian pharmaceutical plant, the company will be better positioned to hire the right expertise and labor power.
TrialSite has reported that R-Pharm inked a deal to produce and distribute the “Gamaleya” vaccine that is Sputnik V.
R-Pharm was founded in 2001 by billionaire Alexey Repik. By 2017, Japanese company Mitsui & Co Ltd. acquired 10% of the Russian pharma company. Based in Moscow, R-Pharm employs over 3,000 employees and has operations around the world, including in this quaint part of Bavaria, Germany. R-Pharm generates over $1 billion annually.