What are those little blue-and-white boxes on the Christmas trees at Protein Sciences Corp.?
Flublok containers, of course! They’re the perfect size and shape for an ornament, and the Meriden pharma company would like to see its breakthrough flu vaccine gift-wrapped this season and injected into arms across the world.
After years in development, Flublok won Food and Drug Administration approval earlier this year for the first flu vaccine that’s made entirely from cell cultures, free of eggs, antibiotics and mercury preservatives. They call themselves the Whole Foods of flu vaccine-makers and they’re turning out doses for delivery as we speak.
Last weekend the company held a Flu-Block party at its complex, open to the public, to kick off National Influenza Vaccine Week, dubbed by the Centers for Disease Control. On Thursday the firm hosted Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman and state Sen. Danté Bartolomeo, in hopes of sparking some sales of the $32 vaccine to the state.
It’s marketing time at Protein Sciences, which has 115 employees, mostly in Meriden, where all of this year’s doses for customers are being made. The firm is setting up manufacturing in Pearl River, New York, where Pfizer abandoned millions of square feet of space it acquired with the takeover of Wyeth.
Sales for this flu season are shaping up modestly with the company aiming for a breakout heading into next winter. “We knew going in that this was going to be a market research year,” said Dan Adams, the executive chairman.
No, the boxes on the trees at each of Protein Sciences’ two buildings are not filled with the product. It may be marketing time but this is still a drug company.