Germany cancels part of GSK swine flu vaccine order

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The Independent Online

German health officials have cancelled part of its order of GlaxoSmithKline’s swine flu vaccine, just three days after France indicated that it would also be paring back the number of doses it would be ordering.

Originally GSK’s vaccine was designed as a two-dose treatment, although European regulators have since advised that one dose of the treatment is likely to be sufficient to guard against the effects of the virus. Other governments are also thought to be scaling back stocks after the number of expected cases of the illness has fallen well below expectations. A spokesperson for GSK confirmed that the group was in talks with other administrations seeking to renegotiate deals.

GSK has disclosed that it is charging clients based on a sliding scale, from €7 a dose for developed countries, down to providing the World Health Organisation with 50m free doses. It has refused however, to give details of individual agreements.

German officials praised GSK , saying that renegotiations had been conducted on friendly terms: “From the drugs group GSK, we have had signals of goodwill on cancelling a large part of the excess vaccine supply,” said Mechthild Ross-Luttmann, who chaired a meeting of German state and federal government officials on the issue. GSK said that the German authorities had not given it permission to disclose the number of cancelled doses.

The company, Europe’s biggest drug maker, also denied reports from earlier in the week that France had also cancelled orders. Health minister Roselyne Bachelot told French television on Monday that, “I have cancelled 50 million doses. These orders had not been paid for or delivered so they are cancelled”.

GSK insisted that talks with French officials were ongoing. France, which originally said it would need some 94 million doses of the vaccine, ordered the treatment from GSK, Sanofi-Pasteur, Novartis and Baxter.

Separately, the chairman of the influential health committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Wolfgang Wodarg has called on the organisation to debate the role of the major drugs companies in the WHO’s swine flue campaign.

The WHO’s “false pandemic” flu campaign is, “one of the greatest medicine scandals of the century,” Dr Wodarg has said. The WHO has recently reaffirmed its stance that the pandemic is not over, and is still dangerous for those that contract the virus. Nonetheless, the number of swine flu deaths is dramatically lower than initially anticipated.

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