HomeNational

GSK won't be able to supply 2 million doses of flu vaccine promised for 2014-15

By: Helen Branswell, The Canadian Press

 | Sep 04, 2014 - 12:49 PM |
Bottles of flu vaccine rotate on a plate as they make their way through a GlaxoSmithKline assembly line on Dec. 9, 2004 in in Ste. Foy, Que. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot

Bottles of flu vaccine rotate on a plate as they make their way through a GlaxoSmithKline assembly line on Dec. 9, 2004 in in Ste. Foy, Que. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot

TORONTO - Canada's largest flu vaccine supplier says it won't be able to fill about 30 per cent of the Canadian order it received for the upcoming 2014-15 flu season.

GlaxoSmithKline, which now goes by the name GSK, says problems at its production facility in Ste. Foy, Que., have left it with a shortfall about two million doses.

The company was to supply 53 per cent of the vaccine ordered by the provincial, territorial and federal governments this year.

GSK says in an email that the production problem was unrelated to the concerns raised earlier this year in inspections by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Health Canada.

The FDA had issued a warning letter after it found a variety of problems in its inspection, a number stemming from bacterial contamination in the plant's water supply.

The company's email does not detail what new problem had led to the vaccine shortfall.

"We are continuing to investigate the cause of this issue," spokesperson Michelle Smolenaars Hunter says in the email.

"We have informed Health Canada and are also providing regular updates to them, as well as PHAC" — the Public Health Agency of Canada.

Contingency planning has been underway in Canada since the Ste. Foy plant's problems were first flagged by the FDA in June.

Other licensed manufacturers have been asked if they could provide additional doses for the Canadian market, though it is unclear if there is enough excess in the system to cover the full two million dose shortfall.

That shortage represents just under 17 per cent of Canada's total vaccine purchase for this year.

Sanofi Pasteur, Novartis and MedImmune also provide portions of the Canadian purchase, which is bulk bought by Public Works and Government Services Canada.

The news comes as provinces and territories are gearing up to start flu vaccination programs beginning next month.

Smolenaars Hunter could not immediately answer questions about whether the production problem would also affect deliveries to the United States. The Ste. Foy plant is supposed to provide 23 million doses of vaccine to the U.S. market this fall.

Reader's Feedback

NorthernLife.ca may contain content submitted by readers, usually in the form of article comments. All reader comments and any opinions, advice, statements or other information contained in any messages posted or transmitted by any third party are the responsibility of the author of that message and not of NorthernLife.ca. The fact that a particular message is posted on or transmitted using this web site does not mean that NorthernLife.ca has endorsed that message in any way or verified the accuracy, completeness or usefulness of any message. We encourage visitors to NorthernLife.ca to report any objectionable content by using the "report abuse" link found in the comments section of this web site. Comment Guidelines


comments powered by Disqus

Most Popular

Local Business Directory