GSK bird flu vaccine wins race for European OK

After investing about $2 billion in development efforts, GlaxoSmithKline has won European approval for the first bird flu vaccine that can be used either in advance of or in the early days of a human pandemic. Glaxo is clearly expecting to see orders for Prepandrix shoot up after regulators for the European Commission firmly placed the vaccine well in the lead in the heated race to develop an antidote designed to protect populations against H5N1. Switzerland has already ordered 8 million doses, enough to inoculate its entire population. And the U.S. has ordered 27.5 million doses.

"It's clear that some governments are more proactive than others," said Emmanuel Hanon, vice president of the Influenza Vaccine Franchise at Glaxo. "The policy is evolving, and I'm looking for some kind of alignment in terms of what governments are going to do. Governments are concerned by the real medical and economic threat of a pandemic."

Sanofi Aventis and Novartis are also in the race to gain approvals for a new vaccine, anxious to capture a market that may total about $1 billion a year.

- read the story from the International Herald Tribune

ALSO: South Korea, meanwhile, mobilized soldiers for a second time to help cull millions of poultry in the face of an outbreak of H5N1 in the country's bird population. Report