GSK, Sanofi, AstraZeneca ready to roll out premium-priced flu vaccines

Will a new generation of flu shots pay off big for vaccine makers? We'll soon find out. As Reuters reports, several top drug companies are rolling out vaccines that fight four strains of influenza, rather than the usual three. And they're expecting to sell those vaccines at a big premium.

Sanofi ($SNY), GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) and AstraZeneca ($AZN) are ready to rock with their new, quadrivalent flu fighters. And if the new vaccines are widely adopted, that could boost sales significantly--because they come with higher prices.

Sanofi Pasteur's Fluzone and Vaxigrip vaccines brought in $1.34 billion last year for Sanofi and its international partner, Merck ($MRK), making them the biggest-selling flu shots in the world, according to EvaluatePharma. With its new four-strain shot, Sanofi is expecting prices of at least 50% higher than with its three-strain vaccines, Reuters says. Analysts have said that they expect the new shot to bring in $384 million annually by 2022.

Glaxo apparently is looking for the same sort of premium. Its new quadrivalent Fluarix is priced at $12.03 per dose under contracts with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Reuters says, compared with $8.08 for GSK's three-strain vaccine.

The payoff won't come overnight, but in a few years, it could be significant. As one analyst told the news service, the four-strain shots should grab market share over time, to the point that sales of flu shots might grow by more than 5% a year, rather than in the low single digits. 

- read the Reuters news

Special Reports: Top 10 Best-Selling Flu Vaccines of 2012 | Top 5 Vaccine Companies by 2012 Revenue - Sanofi - GSK