GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) announced that it has entered into an agreement with the UK Government to provide its pandemic influenza vaccine in the event of a flu pandemic. It is one of the largest contracts signed by GSK to date for its proprietary adjuvanted pandemic flu vaccine.
As part of an Advance Supply Agreement, GSK has committed to make the necessary preparations to supply its pandemic influenza vaccine as soon as possible after a pandemic outbreak has been declared. GSK plans to supply a ?tailored? pandemic vaccine as and when the pandemic strain is identified and made available by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Andrew Witty, President GSK Pharmaceuticals Europe, said: ?This agreement underlines GSK?s commitment to supporting the UK Government in its plans against a possible influenza pandemic. Vaccines are considered to be the single most important intervention for preventing influenza infection and reducing spread of the disease. They are a critical component of any response plan aimed at reducing the potentially devastating effects of an influenza pandemic. GSK believes that securing a pandemic vaccine supply is an important step towards full pandemic preparedness and ultimately the protection of the British public.?
The WHO has stated that an influenza pandemic poses a serious global public health threat with substantial estimated morbidity and mortality. GSK is committed to supporting governments and health authorities around the world in planning to respond to a global influenza pandemic, both prior to an outbreak and in the event one is officially declared. This latest agreement with the UK Government follows recent supply agreements signed with the Swiss, Danish and Icelandic governments. GSK has applied for registration of its pandemic vaccine in January, 2007 to the EMEA.
Professor John Oxford, Professor of Virology, Queen Mary?s School of Medicine, St Bartholomew?s and the Royal London Hospitals, and Scientific Director of Retroscreen Virology Ltd said: ?This announcement by the UK Government is very good news. The World Health Organisation and experts across the globe agree that an influenza pandemic is likely to occur, but cannot predict when. Despite this uncertainty, there is still the opportunity to be thoroughly prepared. This agreement is part of the preparation needed to protect the UKpopulation when an influenza pandemic eventually strikes.?
The pandemic vaccine utilises GSK?s proprietary adjuvant system technology which has been shown to reduce the amount of antigen required to elicit a seroprotective response ? the so-called ?antigen-sparing? effect. This allows a greater number of vaccine doses to be produced when antigen availability is likely to be limited, thereby offering the potential for vaccination to more people in the event of a flu pandemic. In recent pre-clinical trials the adjuvanted vaccine has shown the potential to recognize different H5N1 viruses and to induce cross-protection.
Since 2000, GSK has made substantial progress in its pandemic influenza vaccine development programme and continues to investigate ways to further improve vaccination strategies to respond to a pandemic. To this end, more than $2 billion has already been invested by GSK in combating avian flu; increasing GSK?s production capacity for influenza vaccines and GSK?s anti-viral flu treatment Relenza? (zanamivir), and in ensuring the continuity of critical business operations and processes, to safeguard the continued supply of critical medicines.
GlaxoSmithKline ? one of the world?s leading research-based pharmaceutical and healthcare companies ? is committed to improving the quality of human life by enabling people to do more, feel better and live longer.