GSK may share Canadian vax market

GlaxoSmithKline's vaccine delays last year--combined with borders that remained open as H1N1 made its global rounds--are causing the federal government of Canada to rethink its vaccine strategy. The government wanted a supplier based in Canada in case things got so bad that countries closed their borders, shutting off outside supply. GSK, with a plant in Quebec, became its sole supplier

But production difficulties encountered when the pharma giant switched from making adjuvenated H1N1 vaccine to a non-adjuvenated version left Canadian officials with a predicament: They believed at the time that they needed vaccine quickly, but it appeared that finding a supplier and the required ramp-up time would exceed the flu season window.

Officials are now considering a second pandemic vaccine supply contract and want to find out if the idea is feasible and will provide value. Officials would retain a primary supplier in-country, but would also engage a backup.  The latter may also get a portion of the country's seasonal vaccine business.

Officials say they will meet industry representatives at the end of March to discuss contract options and learn about drug company advances in vaccine-making technology. The GSK contract runs through March 2011.

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