Record flu vaccine supply expected for next season

Apr 24, 2007 (CIDRAP News) – Influenza vaccine producers have projected they will make 127 million to 132 million doses for the US market for the 2007-08 flu season, a record amount that would top the nearly 121 million doses produced for the 2006-07 season, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The projection follows a glut of flu vaccine this season, in which more than 18 million doses went unsold, according to Curtis Allen, a spokesman for the CDC's National Immunization Program in Atlanta.

Of 120.9 million flu vaccine doses produced for the 2006-07 season, 18.4 million were not purchased, Allen told CIDRAP News. That includes 1 million doses in the CDC's strategic reserve, he said.

The four companies that currently make seasonal flu vaccine for the US market presented their new production estimates at the National Influenza Vaccine Summit, held Apr 19 and 20 in Atlanta.

Allen listed the estimates as follows: Sanofi Pasteur, 50 million doses; Novartis, 40 million doses; GlaxoSmithKline, 30 million to 35 million doses; and MedImmune, 7 million doses.

Production for 2007-08 could be even higher if the Food and Drug Administration approves a seasonal flu vaccine from a fifth manufacturer, CSL Biotherapies, the US branch of an Australian company, Allen said. CSL announced Apr 3 it had applied for FDA approval for its vaccine.

The company has said it hopes to have the vaccine ready for distribution in 2007-08 and has asked for an expedited FDA review. Paul Perreault, CSL's executive vice president for worldwide commercial operations, said the company has the capacity to make 20 million doses for the US market, according to an Apr 20 Associated Press (AP) report.

Jeanne Santoli, MD, deputy director of the CDC's immunization services division, lauded the increasing supply of flu vaccine, the AP reported. "To protect people, we need more vaccine," she said.

Earlier this year, public health officials attributed the glut of vaccine this season to a combination of record production with some distribution delays and a mild flu season. Organizations that don't use the vaccine by the end of June have to dispose of it.

See also:

Apr 5 CIDRAP News story "Firm seeks US license for seasonal flu vaccine"

Jan 30 CIDRAP News story "Winter glut of flu vaccine worries health officials"

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