January 13, 2011 / 2:30 PM / 9 years ago

J&J target Crucell resumes Korean vaccine production

AMSTERDAM, Jan 13 (Reuters) - Dutch biotech Crucell CRCL.AS has resumed production of its paediatric vaccines at a South Korean plant following a contamination setback last year, the World Health Organisation said on Thursday.

Crucell halted shipments from the facility last October following the microbiological contamination, sparking concerns that U.S. healthcare group Johnson & Johnson (JNJ.N) might withdraw or lower its 1.75 billion euros bid for the company.

“Crucell has started manufacturing pentavalent again, but the doses being produced will not be able to be released onto the market until the Korean FDA gives the go-ahead,” said Alison Brunier, a spokeswoman at the World Health Organisation.

Brunier added Crucell’s vaccines cannot be supplied to international agencies such as UNICEF until the WHO gives its final assessment of the manufacturing setback and the steps Crucell has taken to resolve the problem.

Crucell was not immediately available for comment.

The WHO previously said it had received Crucell’s final report about the incident in December and it is now being reviewed by internal and external experts. The WHO expects to publish its conclusions before the end of January. [ID:nLDE6BS0SO]

Crucell has started distributing unaffected doses which were produced before the contamination. (Reporting by Aaron Gray-Block; Editing by Sara Webb)

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