PARIS, Oct 12 (Reuters) - Sanofi will invest 170 million euros ($202 million) to expand its vaccines manufacturing site at Val-de-Reuil in north-western France, in a drive aimed at boosting the production of one of its influenza vaccines.
The French drugmaker said on Thursday that the new facility would allow its Sanofi Pasteur vaccines division to expand the supply of the VaxigripTetra product to up to 70 countries. Production at the new facility will start from 2022 onwards.
"Influenza continues be a major public health problem around the world, causing serious complications, hospitalizations and deaths, mostly for certain high-risk individuals," said David Loew, executive vice president at Sanofi and head of Sanofi Pasteur.
"As a global leader in flu vaccines, this expansion reinforces Sanofi Pasteur's ability to tackle this underestimated health challenge," he added.
Annual influenza epidemics result in three to five million cases of severe illness worldwide and 250,000-500,000 deaths, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
VaxigripTetra, which is currently available in 20 European countries, works as a "quadrivalent" vaccine that protects against four strains of the virus also known as flu.
Leading manufacturers of seasonal flu vaccines include Sanofi, GlaxoSmithKline and CSL's Seqirus, which includes the old Novartis flu vaccine business.
($1 = 0.8430 euros) (Reporting by Matthias Blamont; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta)