Crucell may add polio to protect vaccine sales, Reuters reports

AMSTERDAM — Dutch biotech firm Crucell NV will likely look to add a sixth antigen to its portfolio of childhood vaccines as part of expected product add-ons after a stake sale to Johnson & Johnson, Reuters reported Dec. 15.

Crucell's Quinvaxem vaccine, a mix of vaccines against five childhood diseases, has driven its sales growth in recent years, but adding a sixth vaccine could be necessary to maintain Crucell's market position, which is coming under pressure.

"We are working on an hexavalent vaccine but for competitive reasons we are not mentioning what the sixth antigen will be," Crucell spokeswoman Oya Yavuz said in a recent e-mail interview.

Despite Crucell's reluctance to reveal what antigen it will acquire, the World Health Organization said polio is likely to be added in future to the pentavalent pediatric vaccines bought by UNICEF, forming an hexavalent vaccine. A hexavalent vaccine is already used in industrialized countries.

Crucell's Quinvaxem vaccine consists of diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, hepatitis B and influenza vaccines.

Crucell is already developing vaccines for yellow fever, tuberculosis, malaria, Ebola and Marburg and HIV, alongside antibody drugs to treat rabies and hepatitis C, and has said the Johnson & Johnson cash will boost its pipeline development and provide it cash to make acquisitions.