If avian flu goes pandemic, at least two companies will find a silver lining: The British government has signed on to buy vaccine from GlaxoSmithKline and Baxter International. If a flu pandemic occurs, the companies will produce a vaccine tailored to the strain of virus responsible.
To make sure the companies will be ready to go when the World Health Organization raises its pandemic flag, the UK will make an investment in the companies' vaccine R&D. Together, the deals are worth £155.4 million ($308.5 million) over four years.
Glaxo's deal with the UK--one of the largest the company has made for pandemic flu vaccine--follows recent agreements with Switzerland and Denmark. The company says it's spent around $4 billion into its vaccine program since 2000; it applied for E.U. approval for the vaccine in January. Baxter announced that it recently enrolled a Phase III vaccine trial in view of pre-pandemic licensing of its version.
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