Sanofi-Aventis to market seasonal flu vaccine in China

By Tan Ee Lyn

HONG KONG (Reuters) - French drugmaker Sanofi-Aventis hopes to sell 25 million doses of seasonal flu vaccine annually into China’s largely untapped domestic market once its plant in the southern city of Shenzhen goes onstream in 2012.

Wayne Pisano, head of the company’s vaccines arm Sanofi-Pasteur, said on Monday only two percent of Chinese were vaccinated against seasonal flu each year, a fraction of the coverage in Europe and the United States.

“Immunization is between 20 and 40 percent in Europe and North America, but only 2 percent in China … by producing the vaccine in China with this new facility, we are going to increase our capacity immediately with an additional 25 million doses and it will allow us to expand that and double it as the needs in China grow,” Pisano told reporters in Hong Kong.

The 70 million euros ($95 million) plant will use China-made antigen, substances in vaccine that stimulate production of antibodies in the human body. It is cultured using chicken eggs.

Asked how the company will ensure quality given China’s problematic food safety records, Pisano said: “We have a single quality standard and so the facility in Shenzhen, the quality of the product will be identical to our vaccines produced in France and the U.S.”

“We’ve identified almost 50 farms that can provide eggs for production and (will) narrow down to two that can meet the quality standards that we set for manufacturing.”

“We work with the farmers to make sure that they can meet the requirements,” Pisano said.

CAN PRODUCE PANDEMIC FLU VACCINE  Continued…

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