Medicago's parent company has announced that the Quebec City-based biopharmaceutical company, which developed a vaccine against COVID-19, will cease operations.

In a Thursday statement, the Japanese group Mitsubishi Chemical Corporation said it decided to stop commercializing the Covifenz vaccine, licensed by Health Canada in February 2022 for adults aged 18 to 64.

"Since [the approval in Canada], the company had been preparing for the transition to commercial production," the group said. "However, in light of the significant changes in the COVID-19 vaccine landscape since the authorization of Covifenz and following a comprehensive analysis of current global demand, the economic environment with respect to COVID-19 vaccines, and the challenges Medicago faces in transitioning to commercial production, the group has decided not to pursue commercialization."

Mitsubishi Chemical also deemed it "not viable" to continue to invest in the commercialization of Medicago's development products.

"[The group] has therefore chosen to terminate all of its business with Medicago and conduct an orderly dissolution of its commercial business and operations," it says.

Last May, the World Health Organization (WHO) rejected the Quebec biopharmaceutical's COVID-19 vaccine, which uses plants in its manufacturing process.

The reason for the rejection was the presence of tobacco company Philip Morris as a minority shareholder in the company, a decision linked to a policy of the UN agency adopted in 2005. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French by The Canadian Press on Jan. 2, 2023.