Sanofi to ramp up flu shot production

    A new flu vaccine factory in Pennsylvania could triple vaccine production in the United States.

    Sanofi Pasteur’s new facility could help combat swine flu next fall, as well as significantly increase the number of regular flu shots made in the US. The Food and Drug Administration Wednesday gave Sanofi Pasteur the okay to launch its newest facility to make vaccines in time for next year’s flu season. The Swiftwater-based company already provides 50 million flu shots annually in the US. Sanofi spokeswoman Donna Cary says the new facility could add another 100 million doses.

    Cary: It also offers us some flexbility should the Department of Health and Human Services decide that they want to produce the new A H1N1 vaccine.

    That’s the new strain of swine flu that’s affected more than forty people in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware. Cary says the new facility could make swine flu vaccine, without sacrificing the production of seasonal flu shots.

    Cary: We could seasonal vaccine in one facility, do the new vaccine in the other facility. And then we could ensure that we have the necessary capacity of the seasonal vaccine, because seasonal influenza is very very serious.

    Thirty-six thousand people die of flu-related illnesses in the US each year. Cary says the company’s motivation in building the new factory was to accommodate new government recommendations that children under 19 get a flu shot. The government has not yet decided whether to have a vaccine made for the H1N1 swine flu.

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