France sells flu shots; Germany plans returns

Germany and France are trying to cut back on their H1N1 vaccine supplies. Germany wants to accept only half of its vaccine order from GlaxoSmithKline because the so-called swine flu turned out to be less virulent than expected, officials told Bloomberg. Meanwhile, France is offloading vaccine doses to other countries, citing research showing that the shots offered protection with just one dose rather than two as initially prescribed.

First, Germany. Its 50-million-dose order also was based on the two-shots-necessary belief, Deputy Health Minister Hartmut Schubert told the news service. And that's excessive, he said, because the disease turned out to be less severe than initially thought. So 25 million doses are enough to protect Germany's population of more than 80 million, the Health Ministry said. Officials plan to negotiate with Glaxo on reducing deliveries of the vaccine.

Meanwhile, France has sold 300,000 of its doses to Qatar, and it's in the process of selling another 2 million to Egypt. Government officials are in talks with Ukraine and Mexico for further sales. The country allocated its entire 28-million-dose order to Sanofi Pasteur, Sanofi-Aventis' vaccine subsidiary. And it had an option on 28 million further doses. The company says it's open to the idea of slowing down deliveries.

As you know, the H1N1 pandemic offered vaccine makers an enormous opportunity to quickly develop shots and ramp up production to fill big orders from governments all over the world. But for a variety of reasons--the H1N1 flu's relative mildness, the pandemic's quick progression, and, ironically, the vaccines' effectiveness--that opportunity has shrunk markedly, affecting drugmakers' revenue projections and more.

- get more from Deutsche Welle
- read the news on Germany from Bloomberg
- see the Bloomberg piece on France