Drug companies get over $1 billion in flu vaccine funding

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The US government awarded over $1 billion to five drug manufacturers developing technology for quicker mass production of vaccines in the event of an avian flu pandemic. The companies are GlaxoSmithKline, $274.8 million; MedImmune, $169.5 million; Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics, $220.5 million; DynPort Vaccine, $41 million; and Solvay Pharmaceuticals, $298.6 million. The contracts cover a five-year period. The money comes from the $3.8 billion that congress approved last year with the goal of being to distribute vaccine to every American within six months of a pandemic striking. Davis Stout, president of pharmaceutical operations at GlaxoSmithKline, told the Associated Press vaccine makers are about three to five years away from growing flu vaccines in large laboratory vats, rather than the current production technique inside specialized chicken eggs. “What this funding does is accelerate the speed in which we can do the work,” he said.

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