Swine Flu (H1N1) Pandemic Spreads Huge Vaccine Orders

July 22, 2009
Pharmaceutical Commerce, Pharmaceutical Commerce - July/August 2009,

Manufacturers benefit as governments prepare for largescale vaccination campaigns

The demand for vaccines to address H1N1 (swine) flu is there; now, the question is, can industry meet it? In July, the US Department of Health & Human Services committed $884 million to purchase additional supplies of two key ingredients for a potential H1N1 vaccine. The funds will be used to buy H1N1 antigen and adjuvant under existing contracts with Sanofi Pasteur, MedImmune, GlaxoSmithKline and Novartis.

European governments have made similar moves: France has ordered 94 million doses of vaccine at a cost of almost 1 billion euros ($1.4 billion) from Sanofi Pasteur and GSK, reported Reuters. And according to the Wall Street Journal, Britain has ordered enough vaccine for all its 60 million residents, with the orders going to Baxter International and GSK.

The World Health Organization declared swine flu a pandemic in June and the disease has now been reported in more than 100 countries; in the US alone more than 40,000 cases of the disease, resulting in 263 deaths, had been reported by mid-July, according to the Centers for Disease Contro

l and Prevention.

Vaccines are still in development. In the US, clinical trials are expected to start this summer. Vaccines are expected to be available in the fall, assuming trials are successful. However, the WSJ says that at least two manufacturers—Baxter and Novartis—have reported manufacturing problems that could delay availability; the strai

n of the virus used to create the vaccine has been yielding low levels of antigen, a primary ingredient.