Novartis delivers swine flu shots to US

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Novartis delivered the first doses of Fluviron to the US, said a company spokesman Thursday.

Geneva -- Swiss pharmaceutical firm Novartis has begun delivering a first batch of swine flu shots to the United States, a company spokesman said Thursday.

"We have been delivering the first doses to the United States since Sunday," the spokesman told AFP, referring to the Fluviron H1N1 vaccine. "The deliveries will continue in the next weeks."

Governments in the northern hemisphere ordered swine flu vaccines ahead of the winter season as they prepare for a second wave of the virus, which spread across the world after emerging in Mexico and the United States in April.

The European Commission on Tuesday cleared the vaccine for distribution in Europe under the name Focetria. It also approved the Pandemrix vaccine produced by British pharmaceutical group GlaxoSmithKline.

The commission said the vaccines will be authorised for use in all 27 European Union member nations as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.

A second Novartis vaccine against the H1N1 virus, named Celltura, is still awaiting approval, the company spokesman said.

The Basel-based firm plans to distribute 100 million doses of swine flu vaccine by the end of 2009.

Novartis has received orders totalling USD 979 million (CHF 1.02 billion, EUR 685 million) from the US government.

It also signed contracts with Switzerland and the Netherlands and is in talks with some 35 governments.

Novartis began deliveries to Europe in mid-September. The vaccines are awaiting approval from national medical authorities before putting them on the market.

AFP / Expatica

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