The federal government is committing more than $800 million to buy more of the two key ingredients to make the H1N1 swine flu vaccine, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.
The money will be used to place additional orders on existing contracts with vaccine manufacturers including GlaxoSmithKline and Novartis. The former Chiron Corp. facility in Emeryville is now owned by Novartis, which makes vaccines there.
The government is placing orders for antigen and adjuvant. Antigen is the active ingredient in a vaccine that triggers the immune system to develop antibodies to fight the H1N1 virus. Adjuvant is added to boost the immune system and reduce the amount of antigen needed for the vaccine. The vaccine ingredients will become a part of the pandemic stockpile, for use if a vaccination campaign is necessary.
Swiss company Novartis (NYSE: NVS), which is building a vaccine manufacturing facility in Holly Springs, received an order for $346 million for antigen and $343.8 million for adjuvant. London-based GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE: GSK) received an order for $71.4 million of adjuvant.
In addition, Sanofi Pasteur received a $61.4 million order for antigen, and MedImmune won a $61 million order for its nasal flu spray.
“We are doing our part to be as prepared as possible for the impact that this infectious disease could have on our country,” Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a statement. “Vaccines may serve an important role in that preparedness.”
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