Novartis on track to deliver swine flu vaccine to the US

Swiss drugmaker Novartis is on track to deliver H1N1 swine flu vaccine to the US in line with its commitments, in spite of low yields with the initial seed virus.

Swiss drugmaker Novartis is on track to deliver H1N1 swine flu vaccine to the US in line with its commitments, in spite of low yields with the initial seed virus.

Novartis will produce 90 million units of bulk antigen by December, which will result in 60 million vaccine doses. The company has shipped more than 7.5 million doses and expects to reach 25-30 million doses by the end of November.

In addition, the company is progressing with the production of its proprietary adjuvant MF59 for the US. Adjuvants can double the number of vaccine doses produced.

"Overall, we are pleased with the progress achieved to date, given the many challenges and uncertainties of the current pandemic," said Andrin Oswald, chief executive of Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics.

He added that Novartis is building the first cell-based flu manufacturing facility in the US in partnership with HHS, which is scheduled to open later this year.

Novartis says it is fully utilising its manufacturing capacity and has dedicated one of its two flu manufacturing sites in Liverpool, UK, to supplying H1N1 vaccine antigen for the US. The company has boosted production capacity at the Liverpool site by hiring 300 additional staff, as well as bringing forward the opening of a new facility and egg incubation unit at the site.

Following investment of more than US$200m over three years, the US Food and Drug Administration recently approved the additional facility to manufacture vaccines for the US.

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