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Open Orphan signs new vaccine contract with “world leading” pharma player (ORPH)

Open Orphan

Rapidly-growing pharma services provider Open Orphan (LSE:ORPH) has announced a new contract with an unnamed pharmaceutical giant.

The contract is with ORPH subsidiary Venn Life Sciences, an integrated drug development consultancy based in the Netherlands. Venn has been serving Europe’s leading pharma businesses for over 30 years. 

The deal “builds on earlier successful contracts between the companies and is to obtain and support market access of newly developed vaccines into the EU and US markets until the end of 2020,” Open Orphan said in a Thursday 11 June RNS

Details of the pharma giant involved in the deal were not immediately available, but the implication is that the contract is not limited to Covid-19. 

We are delighted to have signed this contract with a leading vaccine developer and one of the top pharmaceutical companies in the world,” Open Orphan executive chairman Cathal Friel said in a statement.  

This contract reinforces Open Orphan’s position as one of the leading service providers to the vaccine industry globally. As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic the vaccine industry is now an increasingly important and rapidly growing sector with many large pharmaceutical companies now directing huge amounts of resources towards their vaccine divisions to progress both Covid-19 and non-Covid-19 vaccines. Open Orphan is ideally positioned to capitalise on this trend.”  

Shares in the AIM and Euronext-listed firm have retraced to 11.8p from an all-time high of 16p on 26 May. But investors are keen to hold for the long term, given the clear potential in the company. 

Its business comprises two main subsidiaries, hVIVO and Venn Life Sciences. Through hVIVO it also has a 49% stake in Imutex, which is developing a Phase 3-ready universal flu vaccine, FLU-v. 

hVIVO has a world-leading portfolio of human infection viral study models, including COPD, asthma, RSV and flu. It got large amounts of press from the UK nationals recently when it launched its Covid-19 antibody test using the Quotient (NASDAQ:QTNT) microarray from its East London laboratory. 

Long-term holders have done very well out of Open Orphan but the consolidation back towards a the 22 May placing price of 11p has caused some consternation. 

Prospects in the medium to long term look solid, however, with Cathal Friel talking up a pipeline of £160 million of contracts. 

Open Orphan raised £12 million from the discounted placing to expand its testing capacity and open up its existing lab testing facilities to third-party biotechs.

Contracts for human challenge studies worth up to £10 million of revenue have been signed and will be realised this year, Friel has previously said.

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