CSL Limited is a global specialty biotechnology company that researches, develops, manufactures and markets products to treat and prevent serious human medical conditions. CSL's product areas include blood plasma derivatives, vaccines, antivenom, and cell culture reagents used in various medical and genetic research and manufacturing applications.
Founded in 1916 the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories, an Australian government body focused on vaccine manufacture. Under the first director, William Penfold, CSL commenced operation in the vacant Walter and Eliza Hall Institute building at the Melbourne Hospital in 1918, before moving to its purpose-built Parkville premises in the following year. After ongoing disputes with the Commonwealth Department of Health and its director, (John) Howard Cumpston, Penfold resigned in 1927 and was replaced by Frederic Morgan. Soon after Morgan's appointment, CSL was drawn into a serious public health disaster when a batch of its diphtheria toxin-antitoxin was implicated in the deaths of twelve children in what became known as the 'Bundaberg tragedy' of 1928. Although CSL's manufacturing processes were absolved, its labelling procedures were seen to be in error, leading to an enduring focus on the highest standards across the facility's production. In 1928, CSL also became involved in antivenene (antivenom) manufacture in conjunction with the snake venom research undertaken by Charles Kellaway at the Hall Institute. This led to the successful clinical testing of antivenene against tiger snake Notechis scutatus bite in 1930, and its commercial release in 1931. In 1934, the research on snake venoms was transferred from the Hall Institute to CSL under the direction of former snake showman, Tom 'Pambo' Eades. This represented the initiation of research at the laboratories – an outcome its directors had been seeking for over a decade. The relationship with the Hall Institute continued until World War II, particularly via joint projects on viral diseases including polio and influenza coordinated by Frank Macfarlane Burnet and Esmond 'Bill' Keogh. Keogh played an important role in the establishment of penicillin production at CSL in 1944 – a critical wartime achievement.
The operation commenced plasma fractionation in 1952. Thereafter the range of antivenoms increased, including those against other snake species such as death adder (Acanthophis antarcticus) and the taipan (Oxyuranus scutellatus), plus spiders including the redback (Latrodectus hasselti) and – after much difficulty – the Sydney funnel-web (Atrax robustus). Much of this work, including the introduction in 1962 of a polyvalent antivenom against all of the major terrestrial Australian snakes, occurred under the direction of Saul Wiener, while from 1966 until the mid-1990s, venom research was coordinated by the eccentric but dedicated Struan Sutherland.
Other major achievements of CSL include:
In 1994, the Commonwealth facility was privatised as CSL Ltd. In 2000 CSL doubled its size through the purchase of a Swiss plasma company, the Bern-based ZLB Bioplasma AG. In 2004, during a period of plasma oversupply, the company expanded again with the purchase of the German medical company Aventis Behring. The company was the 2nd Australian public company to have reached a share price of over $100 per share.
In 2011, the company received the Minister's Award for Outstanding Equal Employment Opportunities Initiative for their Thinking Kids Children's Centre. 
In October 2014, Novartis announced its intention to sell its influenza vaccine business, including its development pipeline, to CSL for $275 million. CSL merged it into its BioCSL operation. In November 2015, BioCSL rebranded the combined business with Novartis Influenza Vaccines as Seqirus [Sek-eer-us] creating the world's second largest influenza vaccine company.
The company's headquarters remain in Parkville, Victoria, an inner suburb of Melbourne. CSL Behring is headquartered in King of Prussia, USA and has manufacturing operations in the Swiss city of Bern, in Marburg in Germany, and Kankakee, USA.
CSL is a public company and its stock is traded on the Australian Securities Exchange under the stock code CSL. The company completed an Initial Public Offering in June 1994 at A$2.30 per share. CSL stock is part of the S&P/ASX 50 Index.
CSL's vaccine for Swine Flu was approved in September 2009 for use in Australia by people aged 10 and over. The federal government ordered 21 million doses of vaccine for 2009 A/H1N1 of which eight million were manufactured by CSL. The Australian government intended to use the CSL Vaccine in one of the largest national vaccine programs in the country's history.
CSL Limited's products can be separated by company division. Some of the key products produced by each division, have included:
Product availability varies from country to country, depending on registration status.
CSL Biotherapies, a subsidiary of CSL Limited, Australia's leading biopharmaceutical company, can today confirm that its vaccine against the pandemic (H1N1) 2009 influenza or 'swine flu' has been approved registration for use in people aged 10 years and over.
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