Workers at the Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica Inc. main plant in Fort Dodge have begun making a new low-dose vaccine for dogs, according to company officials.
It's the latest in a long line of pet vaccines produced at the facility at 800 Fifth St. N.W.
''This is a very important site for us,'' said Bernd Eichenmueller, the company's vice president of operations. ''This is the only site that makes pet vaccines for the U.S. and world markets.''
-Messenger file photo
Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica Inc. employees at the main plant have begun producing a new low-dose vaccine for dogs, according to company officials.
''We will try to continue to invest into the people and the facilities there,'' he added.
The new vaccine line now being produced is called ULTRA Duramune. It protects against canine viruses such as parvovirus, distemper and leptospira, according to Eichenmueller.
He said the vaccine is produced with a technology that removes extra proteins and cellular debris. The result is a vaccine with 50 percent less volume per dose. Eichenmueller said that makes the vaccine more convenient for a veterinarian to administer and safer for a dog to receive.
''This is a very important new product line for us,'' he said.
Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica Inc. announced the debut of the new vaccine in November.
The company's entire line of dog and cat vaccines is made in Fort Dodge. Pharmaceuticals are also produced locally.
Eichenmueller said the site additionally produces antigens for cattle vaccines. The antigens, he said, are the active ingredients in a vaccine that trigger the immune response in the animals. Those antigens are taken to the company's facility in St. Joseph, Mo., to be processed into vaccines.
Boehringer Ingelheim has recently upgraded all of the manufacturing equipment. Eichenmueller said new electrical, water, and heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems were installed.
Those improvements were part of a $17.6 million investment in its Fort Dodge facility that the company announced in 2010. That investment is also expected to include the construction of three specialized buildings for vaccine research. The company is expected to add 78 jobs as part of that expansion.
Boehringer Ingelheim may not be done adding things to its Fort Dodge campus.
In September, company officials announced that a $50 million animal care facility about the size of a football field may be built.
''Our hope and our desire is to put the facility there,'' said Rene Ward, a company spokeswoman. ''It is Boehringer Ingelheim's choice to be in Fort Dodge. It just needs to make business sense and be feasible.''
Eichenmueller said those expansion plans are in a ''feasibility phase.''
''We are evaluating what can and needs to be done,'' he said.
However, even as the company expands part of its local operations, other components are being downsized.
Up to 100 employees may lose their jobs in 2014 when the company closes its plant on Riverside Drive. That plant was mostly producing non-sterile pharmaceuticals for Pfizer Inc., which briefly owned it. Pfizer is moving its production out Fort Dodge.
Another 45 jobs will be lost in mid-2014 when the packaging and labeling operation is moved from Fort Dodge to St. Joseph.
Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica Inc., headquartered in Germany, came to the city in 2009 when it bought many of the Fort Dodge Animal Health assets from Pfizer Inc. and Wyeth.