Novartis opens aquaculture research facility in PEI

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A new $2.8-million research facility established in the PEI community of Victoria by the Aqua Health division of Novartis Animal Health is now up and running.

Novartis is using the facility to develop new vaccines to be used in the fish farming industry. The company renovated an abandoned fish farming operation and the site now has a workforce of 14. Novartis also has a vaccine manufacturing plant, a warehouse and a distribution centre at the West Royalty Business Park in Charlottetown. Dr. Riad Sherif, head of Novartis Pharmaceuticals Canada Inc. said Novartis has spent $13 million on its Island operations over the past five years.

“Novartis is pleased to add to its investments in Prince Edward Island thanks to the government’s commitment to building a strong life sciences industry here,” he said. “The investments that Novartis has made over the last few years in PEI demonstrates its strong commitment to innovation and underscores that the animal health business is a key part of our business in Canada.”

The PEI site is one of five worldwide Novartis Animal Health centres for research and development. The others, in the U.S., Australia and Switzerland, focus on medicines for pets and livestock.

Novartis was the first company to develop and license vaccines for infectious salmon

anemia virus and infectious hematopoietic necrosis virus, which are deadly to salmon and financially damaging to fish farmers. The company now has a broad range of salmonid vaccines as well as products to control sea lice.

“Our PEI research and development facility is at the centre of our commitment to global innovation for vaccines that prevent diseases in farmed fish,” said Folkert Kamphuis, Head, Novartis Animal Health  in North America.

The PEI government provided funding to the company through the Island Prosperity strategy. Premier Robert Ghiz recently visited the facility and called the facility a major player in the province’s efforts to build a bioscience cluster.

 “The particular work being done by Novartis in developing vaccines to improve the efficiency and quality of fish farming is expected to also have an important impact on our fisheries, and those around the world,” the premier said. 

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