Some cancel flu vax; others stand firm

Another day, another vaccine-order cancellation. This time, it's Novartis bearing the brunt of France's new thinking on H1N1 flu vaccinations. The French government has cancelled orders for 7 million doses--almost half the amount it initially requested from Novartis.

And there's more to come. Germany praised GlaxoSmithKline for being willing to accept order cancellations; the government is negotiating with the drugmaker on just how many. And Novartis appears to be girding for more negotiations, too. "Novartis will evaluate government requests on a case by case basis within the framework of the contractual agreements which we consider binding," spokesman Eric Althoff tells Reuters.

Countries around the world are realizing that they don't need as many doses of vaccine as they ordered, and they're in talks to cancel orders and sell off excess doses. Drugmakers are partly victims to their own effectiveness; some of the cancellations are coming because the shots confer protection with one dose rather than two.

Not all countries want to cut back their orders, however. Portugal says it has no excess supply. And in the U.S., CDC officials say demand remains steady, and that the government wants as many people as possible to be vaccinated. "We're really encouraging people to get vaccinated," the CDC's Dr. Anne Schuchat said at a press briefing. "So we haven't made decisions here in the U.S. about giving back vaccines."

- get the U.S. news from Reuters
- see the piece from Portugal News
- read the story on France, also from Reuters
- check out the article in the Independent