Two More Federal Contracts for Flu Vaccine Production

HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt said June 14 that his agency has awarded two more contracts to expand domestic manufacturing capacity of influenza vaccine in the event of a pandemic. The two contracts total $132.5 million and were given to sanofi pasteur and MedImmune for a five-year period to retrofit existing manufacturing facilities on a cost-sharing basis and to provide "warm-base" operations for manufacturing pandemic flu vaccines. In warm-base operations, the contractor does not shut down the facility, HHS said.

"We must prepare for a flu pandemic, although it may not be possible to be certain when the next one will come or how severe it will be," Leavitt said. "These contracts are important advances in the path of preparation because they help the nation build its capacity to respond." The contract for sanofi pasteur is worth $77.4 million; MedImmune's is worth $55.1 million.

When they are finished, the facilities will expand domestic pandemic vaccine manufacturing capacity by 16 percent and allow year-round production of pre-pandemic vaccines for the national stockpile. Currently, production is limited to three months each year.

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