In the gleaming lobby of Fort Washington Manufacturing, President Elon Alexander helps me navigate the tangle of empty vending machines, red bricks and plans for the factory floor. When he reopens them, he hands me two bags of the company’s condoms: a five-pack of thin, foillike tubes and a package of protein capsules.
Mr. Alexander’s office overlooks the assembly line humming away in the final stage of the building’s massive conversion into a $1 billion, 70,000-square-foot vaccine production facility that will produce 80 million doses of a top-selling C. difficile vaccine by the end of next year.
The plant’s proximity to the shoreline of the Delaware River, a critical entry point for the vaccine, makes it more convenient for workers to show up for duty and is expected to shorten delivery times by as much as a week.
That convenience is the culmination of a few decades of hard work by numerous drug companies and biotechnology firms to develop efficacious vaccines that are not only effective but convenient for health-care workers who conduct many of the first cases of infectious disease. They are the next-generation of cures that require limited treatment or intervention and promise to save a great deal of money.