Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Ebola Treatment in Production 24/7 in Kentucky

While Mitch McConnell and Alison Lundergan Grimes fight over which one embraces the decomposing corpse of coal more ardently, the company that is Kentucky's future is quietly and determinedly working to save the world.

Laura Ungar at the Courier:

As Ebola continues to ravage West Africa and spreads for the first time in the United States, a Kentucky company is putting all other work aside to concentrate solely on producing the experimental medicine ZMapp.

The goal: To ramp up production and get it to people more quickly.

Kentucky BioProcessing, contracted by San Diego-based drug maker Mapp Biopharmaceutical to produce ZMapp, makes the compound using tobacco plants, which act as "photocopiers" to mass-produce proteins.

"We have essentially put all of our resources around the ZMapp compound," said David Howard, a spokesman for Reynolds American Inc., which acquired Kentucky BioProcessing in January. "It's our entire focus. ... We're trying to do what we can to address this epidemic."

Howard said the company is hiring more staff and working on the compound 24 hours a day, seven days a week at its Owensboro facility, which has 32,000 square feet of manufacturing space. Although the compound takes about three months to make, he said, limited supplies are available, and he expects to keep producing more on a rolling basis. He said this increased production may help speed up the drug-approval process.

Working toward U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval is also the federal government's goal. In September, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced plans to accelerate development of ZMapp under an 18-month, $24.9 million contract with Mapp, which could be extended to $42.3 million.

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