Monday, September 21, 2009

Government triples order for swine flu vaccines from MedImmune

MedImmune said the federal government has more than tripled its order of swine flu vaccines from the local biotech, bringing the government’s total purchases up to $453 million since May.

In a $302 million contract, the Department of Health and Human Services has ordered 29 million more doses of MedImmune’s H1N1 flu vaccine, which recently won federal approval from the Food and Drug Administration to be used in cases of emergency for anyone 2 to 49 years of age.

This is MedImmune’s third contract since the spring and summer, when the federal agency ordered a total 13 million doses from the local biotech, which is owned by London-based AstraZeneca PLC (NYSE: AZN).

MedImmune said it’s already produced enough bulk vaccine to fill those HHS orders -- the company has said it has the capacity to produce 200 million doses -- and it said the FDA has already begun releasing its first 3.4 million doses of its FluMist-based product.

Public health authorities will determine who receives the doses, but Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials have said they expect the distribution process to mirror those for pediatric vaccines. The agency said up to 90,000 provider sites may receive the swine flu vaccines, depending at first on need, and orders should start shipping out to health agencies in early October.

MedImmune’s vaccine, which uses a live attenuated version of the now pandemic-status virus, is based on its seasonal FluMist intranasal spray format. MedImmune is one of four companies nationwide whose swine flu vaccine has been approved by federal regulators for use on the disease, which has now infected residents in all 50 states.