Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A Swine Flu Windfall for GlaxoSmithKline?

British drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline has orders for its swine flu vaccine from 16 countries and is in talks with 50 more.

Work on the swine flu vaccination could reap huge profits for pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline.

British pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) is set to reap billions as fear of the swine flu pandemic grows. The world's second-largest drug company has secured orders from 16 countries for 195 million doses of the vaccine it is developing against the H1N1 virus, which has killed more than 740 people worldwide.

The Brentford (England)-based drugmaker began production of its new flu vaccine in June and is on track to begin shipping the first doses in September. At a July 22 briefing to announce the company's second-quarter results, CEO Andrew Witty confirmed the number of orders is expected to be "substantially more" as the company currently is in discussions with 50 countries. While Britain has ordered 60 million doses of the vaccine, according to Witty, the US has paid GSK $250 million (€175.6 million) to supply it with "pandemic products" such as the individual ingredients used in the vaccine. These include the antigen that prompts an individual's immune response and GSK's adjuvent technology, a sort of booster used to increase the vaccine's yield and potency.

GSK also announced it expects to increase annual production of its inhalable anti-viral flu treatment Relenza threefold, to 190 million doses, by yearend. Relenza sales for the three months ended June 30 were $99 million, up from just $5 million in the second quarter of 2008. Since the beginning of 2006, GSK has invested $2.5 billion to put in place the technology and capacity needed to meet demand. "Short of putting beds in the labs, we are throwing just about every resource we have into this,",1518,637748,00.html

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