Chiron appoints GPC in wake of flu-plant crisis

Biotech firm Chiron is understood to have appointed GPC International to its public affairs account after a competitive pitch as it recovers from controversy surrounding the suspension of its flu-vaccine facility in Liverpool this autumn.

Four-year incumbent agency Lexington Communications said it declined to pitch for the account.

Chiron UK & Ireland policy and corporate affairs manager Clara Bentham, who oversaw the review, had said the PA brief would include

‘profile-raising’ and ‘monitoring intelligence’.

California-based Chiron is one of the five main suppliers of flu vaccinations to the NHS, providing more than two million doses of its Fluvirin vaccine, and was expected to supply 48 million doses for the US.

Most of its vaccine, which Chiron acquired as part of its takeover of Powderjet Pharmaceuticals, was made at the Liverpool facility, which was suspended because of fears of bacterial contamination.

Its failure to provide roughly half of the US’s flu vaccinations sparked an investigation by a federal grand jury in the middle of the recent presidential election campaign.

As well as vaccines, Chiron focuses on biopharmaceuticals and blood testing. Novartis owns a 42 per cent stake in the company.

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