Sanofi to roll out quadrivalent flu jab in Canada amid GSK manufacturing woes

Sanofi Pasteur President Mark Lievonen

As GlaxoSmithKline's ($GSK) flu vaccine-manufacturing struggles in Canada continue, Sanofi ($SNY) is moving into the country with its own four-strain flu blocker. Its Fluzone Quadrivalent will roll out in Canada starting this flu season, it said Wednesday.

The company's hoping to build on a 2013 flu season that saw vaccine sales soar. In last year's fourth quarter, the French drugmaker's top-line vaccines haul surged 94% thanks to the quadrivalent's U.S. debut, and Sanofi's hoping the stepped-up protection the shot offers will help it catch on quickly in other markets, too.

"We are pleased to be a leader in influenza vaccination through the launch of this important four-strain vaccine in Canada, and we are committed to developing vaccine solutions that fit with the current influenza epidemiology," Mark Lievonen, president of Sanofi Pasteur, said in a statement.

But meanwhile, rival GSK is struggling to get its Canadian flu vaccine production back on track. Last month, the British pharma said new issues at the company's Ste-Foy, Quebec facility would prevent it from delivering just less than 2 million doses to the Public Health Agency of Canada.

The setback followed ongoing bacteria problems that spurred warnings from regulators in both the U.S. and Canada this summer. Those stumbles halted production of FluLaval Tetra, Glaxo's quadrivalent competitor approved in Canada--and they also may trip GSK up as it tries to repeat its own Q4 2013 success story, which resulted in a 76% sales boost.

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Special Reports: The top 5 vaccine makers by 2013 revenue - Sanofi - GlaxoSmithKline | Major FDA vaccine approvals of 2012 - Fluzone - Fluarix Quadrivalent