After fewer than expected H1N1 influenza cases during last year's flu season in Europe, the industry's top vaccine manufacturers are preparing for lower sales. "In Europe, the pandemic didn't prove to be as threatening as initially thought," Wayne Pisano, head of vaccines at Sanofi-Aventis, told Financial Times. "The response was seen as alarmist." Still, the World Health Organization has listed H1N1 as one of three flu strains that this year's vaccine should inoculate consumers against.
Some countries, including France and Japan, have cancelled large portions of their vaccine orders due to large surpluses this year. The EU only recommends that the elderly and other high-risk groups get vaccinated whereas the U.S.'s advisements apply to everyone. Sanofi-Aventis, GlaxoSmithKline and Novartis all expect upticks in U.S. vaccine demand. The higher U.S. demand will help raise an estimated $6 billion in collective annual sales this year and last. Still, Europeans are more protected against seasonal flu strains than Americans due to the use of adjuvanted vaccines not yet approved in the U.S.