Crucell resumes operations at South Korean vaccine plant

Dutch biotechnology company Crucell NV has resumed operations at its South Korea vaccines plant that it had previously shut down due to sterility issues, though vaccines cannot be brought to market until it receives government clearance.  

The World Health Organization has confirmed that Crucell has resumed production on vaccines and that the company requires approval from the South Korean regulator before distributing them, Nasdaq reports.

"We have restarted production but...we are not shipping new product until we receive formal approval from the Korean FDA," Oya Yavuz, a Crucell spokeswoman said, according to Reuters.

Alison Brunier, a WHO spokeswoman, told Nasdaq that there is no timetable for the South Korean clearance but that it is a sign of confidence that production has restarted.

Crucell suspended operations at its Shingal plant in late October, temporary halting shipments of two vaccines due to plant sterility issues. Previously, Crucell had stated that they expected the facility to resume manufacturing in February 2011.

U.S. healthcare products giant Johnson & Johnson, which already owns 17.9 percent of Crucell shares, has agreed in principle to purchase the remaining stocks in October.

Johnson & Johnson left an option open to potentially change the terms of the deal if the problems at the South Korean manufacturing plant ended up being worse than initially perceived.