12160 Bio Watch :
GlaxoSmithKlein is on course for a windfall of more than $3bn (£1.8bn) from the rush for its H1N1 swine flu vaccine after nine more governments placed orders with the group.
The UK-based drug manufacturer, one of the first in the field with a vaccine, now has orders for more than 290m doses from a growing list of governments anxious to avoid being without supplies if the outbreak reaches critical levels with the onset of the "flu season" in the autumn.
An additional 96m doses of the vaccine will be supplied by Glaxo under the terms of the new contracts, in addition to the 195m shots already in the order book. "Discussions continue with governments for further supplies of the vaccine," Glaxo said after announcing the latest batch of orders.
Total orders for the vaccine are now estimated to be worth $1.5bn but analysts anticipate the order book could top the $3bn mark on the basis of the current flow of orders. The US government has contracts with Glaxo that could be worth an additional $250m.
The first supplies will be delivered next month in a programme that has made special provision for countries in the developing world. Glaxo has earmarked 20pc of the vaccine output from its Canadian manufacturing unit to poorer countries.
Other drug-makers are pushing ahead with production of their own vaccines and clinical trials. Novartis has started trials and Sanofi-Aventis, the biggest producer of flu medicines, expects to follow within days. Glaxo should follow later on in the month.
All the companies have been attempting to earmark extra capacity to cope with demand. Most have been handicapped by low yields when producing the vaccine and struggled to produce about 30pc of the usual yield of seasonal flu strains but are now reporting a better performance. telegraph.co.uk
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