Novartis produces first batch of swine flu vaccine

June 12, 2009

Swiss drugs giant Novartis has completed a first batch of swine flu vaccine for pre-clinical trials and aims to make a version available in the fall, the company said Friday.

" has successfully completed the production of the first batch of A(H1N1) , weeks ahead of expectations," the company said in a statement.

The 10-litre batch "will be used for pre-clinical evaluation and testing and is also being considered for use in clinical trials," it said.

Novartis hopes to start clinical trials in July and "expects licensure in the fall of 2009," it said.

It added that "more than 30 governments have made requests to Novartis to supply them with influenza A(H1N1) vaccine ingredients."

The company used cell-based technology to produce the vaccine, a faster method than the traditional technology that uses eggs, according to Novartis.

Novartis received 289 million dollars (206.8 million euros) last month from the US Department of Health and Human Services for the development of the vaccine.

The World Health Organization declared a pandemic on Thursday, ratcheting up its alert to the maximum level of six.

Swine flu has infected people almost 30,000 people in 75 countries and claimed 144 lives since it was first detected in Mexico in April.

(c) 2009 AFP

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not rated yet Jun 16, 2009
LONDON (Reuters) - Swiss drugs company Novartis will not give free vaccines against H1N1 flu to poor countries, though it will consider discounts, the Financial Times reported on Sunday.

"If you want to make production sustainable, you have to create financial incentives," the FT quoted Novartis Chief Executive Daniel Vasella as saying in an early edition of Monday's paper.

The director-general of the World Health Organization, Margaret Chan, has called for drugs companies to show solidarity with poor countries as they develop vaccines against the pandemic H1N1 virus, commonly known as swine flu.

As well as Novartis, U.S. company Baxter International and Europe's Sanofi-Aventis, GlaxoSmithKline and Solvay are working on vaccines.

H1N1 has infected around 30,000 people globally, mostly in North America, though there have been few deaths outside Mexico and the United States. Europe suffered its first death on Sunday after a patient with pre-existing health problems died in Scotland.

(Reporting by David Milliken; Editing Bernard Orr)


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