Sanofi to donate 100M doses of new flu vaccine

Sanofi-Aventis has decided to reserve 10 percent of its total production of swine flu vaccine for poor countries, an offering that will provide 100 million jabs of the new vax.

"It's a call for collective action," Sanofi Chief Executive Officer Chris Viehbacher told Bloomberg. "We all have to play our part. It can't be only the rich countries having access to the vaccines, in case of a pandemic." And Viehbacher said that if Sanofi's manufacturing centers become completely focused on producing swine flu vaccine, the company will add a tiered-pricing approach to developing countries for additional supply.

That announcement follows a decision by GlaxoSmithKline to contribute 50 million doses of its vaccine to the World Health Organization's vaccination program. And it is likely to put some intense pressure on Novartis, which recently announced that it had no plans to give away doses to anyone. Poor countries, though, might be able to qualify for a discount.

"In principle, I agree that you don't want to rely on donations, they are not a sustainable model," Viehbacher said. "But a pandemic is an exceptional event, it's not on-going. We have to do what we can to help the WHO fight it."

The sudden arrival of swine flu and its rapid spread around the globe almost immediately triggered some intense reactions from developing nations. Affluent countries already have contracts in place with the major manufacturers, leaving developing countries at the end of the waiting line.

- read the report from Bloomberg

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