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Allentown pharmaceutical firm expanding to help create COVID-19 vaccines

Garry Morefield of VaxForm, left, and Kyle Flanigan of US Specialty Formulations at Ben Franklin Tech Ventures in Bethlehem. PHOTO/FILE

 

An Allentown pharmaceutical manufacturing company, U.S. Specialty Formulations, is expanding again to continue its work developing a COVID-19 vaccine in partnership with VaxForm of Bethlehem.

The expansion is expected to create at least 97 high-paying jobs at the company.

USSF will expand its current 41,000-square-foot facility and request an FDA Emergency Use Approval for the release of a COVID-19 oral and injectable vaccine that should be available by mid-2021.

The company will be making renovations and acquiring new equipment to bolster its efforts.

USSF is receiving funding from the state Department of Community and Economic Development in the form of a $291,000 Pennsylvania First grant and was encouraged to apply for a $2.4 million Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority loan to help with the expansion.

The governor’s office noted that the company has committed to investing at least $5.2 million into the project.

“There will be a global demand for COVID-19 vaccines, and investments like this can help position our commonwealth for success in recovery from this pandemic,” said Gov. Tom Wolf. “My administration is eager to support the growth and job creation of businesses stepping up and offering solutions as we continue to battle this virus and keep our communities healthy and safe.”

Wolf said there is a global shortage of pharmaceutical manufacturing capacity, which has been made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic.

There has also been limited capacity for clinical investigators to obtain appropriately documented clinical grade materials.

He said USSF has been able to address both of these challenges.

The company has also partnered with fellow Ben Franklin Technology Partners company, VaxForm LLC, to adapt an emergent oral vaccine platform technology to act as a vaccine for COVID-19.

The oral platform was originally designed to produce the antibodies required to generate immunity to Diphtheria, Tetanus and Pertussis.

The platform was modified to generate the appropriate proteins to produce the proper immune response against COVID-19.

USSF will be providing clinical materials from its Allentown plant for the human phase one clinical safety trials. Those are scheduled to begin in February 2021.

USSF was founded in 2013 and produces a variety of pharmaceuticals in a state-of-the-art Allentown facility.

Writer Stacy Wescoe has her finger on the pulse of the business community in the Greater Lehigh Valley and keeps you up-to-date with technology and trends, plus what coworkers and competitors are talking about around the water cooler — and on social media. She can be reached at swescoe@bridgetowermedia.com or 610-807-9619, ext. 4104. Follow her on Twitter and on Facebook.

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