Nations scrap orders for GSK swine flu jab

British drugs company renegotiates H1N1 deals with 'many governments'

The British pharmaceuticals giant GlaxoSmithKline has confirmed it is in talks with several countries keen to reduce their orders of its swine flu vaccine Pandemrix. The Belgian government yesterday became the latest to tell the company that it was paring back its requirement.

The health ministry in Brussels said it would be cutting its order by about €33m (£29m) after initially asking for 12.6 million doses of Pandemrix. The cancellation comes after a host of countries in the northern hemisphere told the pharmaceuticals industry that there was insufficient demand for the treatment. Britain, France, Germany, Spain and the US have all indicated in the past two weeks that they will be renegotiating their deals.

Demand for vaccines to combat H1N1 influenza has fizzled out because the pandemic has proven to be less aggressive than was first feared. Regulators who initially indicated that two vaccinations would be needed by each swine flu patient now say that one dose is sufficient. Analysts predict that European governments could return or cancel up to 50 per cent of what they ordered, which could reduce GSK's income from Pandemrix by £300m.

Andrew Witty, the chief executive of GSK, said in October that forecasts for about £1bn in sales of Pandemrix in the fourth quarter were "pretty close to being right". However, since he made his remarks a number of analysts have lowered the estimates. Credit Suisse, for example, cut its forecasts for GSK's 2009 and 2010 sales by $800m.

GSK issued a statement yesterday, saying it shipped 130 million doses of Pandemrix, worth £835m, in the final three months of last year. "Shipments of the vaccine continue to be delivered in the first half of 2010 and GSK is in ongoing discussions with many governments as their needs evolve," the company added. "This includes renegotiation of contracts with governments who have announced changes to their planned immunisation programmes, and with governments who have placed new orders for the pandemic vaccine. It is therefore too early to say what the final number of doses supplied and the value of these orders will be."

GSK pointed out that while sales in the northern hemisphere would be hit, countries in the southern hemisphere had yet to reach peak swine flu season. Drugs that were originally earmarked for countries such as Britain and Germany this winter could be re-routed elsewhere in the coming months.

Yet this could still be costly for GSK. Countries south of the equator are generally thought to be paying less for the vaccine. The company has disclosed that it charges clients on a sliding scale, from €7 a dose for developed countries, to providing the World Health Organisation with 60 million vaccines for free.

Earlier this week, GSK confirmed that German health officials had cancelled 30 per cent of its Pandemrix order, trimming it to 34 million doses. Meanwhile, the French health minister, Roselyne Bachelot, told French television last week: "I have cancelled 50 million doses. These orders had not been paid for or delivered so they are cancelled."

GSK insists that talks with France are ongoing. Ms Bachelot's ministry originally said it would need 94 million vaccines and ordered them from GSK, Sanofi-Pasteur, Baxter and Novartis. Baxter, along with GSK, has a contract to supply swine flu vaccine in the UK.

News of more cancelled vaccine orders came as the WHO hit back at claims that its H1N1 forecasts had been unduly influenced by the big drugs companies. Keiji Fukuda, the WHO director-general's special adviser on pandemic influenza, said yesterday: "The world is going through a real pandemic ... the description of it as a fake is both wrong and irresponsible".

His comments followed a claim by Wolfgang Wodarg, the chairman of the Council of Europe's health committee, that global drugs companies had influenced the WHO's assessment of the dangers of the H1N1 virus, calling the outbreak a "false pandemic"

Mr Wodarg said the WHO's campaign was "one of the greatest medicine scandals of the century".

GSK also issued a robust rebuttal of Mr Wodarg's comments yesterday, saying: "Allegations of undue influence are misguided and unfounded. The WHO declared that H1N1 swine flu met the criteria for a pandemic.

"Responding to it has required unprecedented collaboration. As WHO have stated, legal regulations and numerous safeguards are in place to manage possible conflicts of interest."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Ashdown Group: Market Research Executive

£23000 - £26000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Market Research Executive...

Recruitment Genius: Technical Report Writer

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Technical Report Writer is re...

MBDA UK Ltd: Indirect Procurement Category Manager

Competitive salary & benefits!: MBDA UK Ltd: MBDA UK LTD Indirect Procurement...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - PHP

£16500 - £16640 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing Finance compa...

Day In a Page

Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness
Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

Homeless Veterans appeal

Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story
Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

Front National family feud?

Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
Pot of gold: tasting the world’s most expensive tea

Pot of gold

Tasting the world’s most expensive tea
10 best wildlife-watching experiences: From hen harriers to porpoises

From hen harriers to porpoises: 10 best wildlife-watching experiences

While many of Britain's birds have flown south for the winter, it's still a great time to get outside for a spot of twitching
Nick Easter: 'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

Nick Easter targeting World Cup place after England recall
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore