January 10, 2010
Cash tills are ringing at GlaxoSmithKline thanks to soaring demand for its swine flu vaccine Pandemrix, and Relenza, which treats the symptoms of the illness that has led to hundreds of deaths around the world. Analysts predict a £1bn revenue windfall in 2010 as governments stockpile medicines designed to combat a possible pandemic.
GSK has landed 22 government contracts since last summer, with 440m doses ordered. The company makes the vaccine in Dresden and Quebec, but demand is so great – about 60% higher than for usual seasonal vaccines – that it is outsourcing production to third-party manufacturers. In the UK, there are plans to vaccinate the entire population if necessary, and the government has given the go-ahead for vulnerable people, such as pregnant women, frontline health workers and young children, to be inoculated.
Andrew Witty, GSK’s chief executive for the past 18 months, stresses that the company has worked hard to come up with a vaccine and that “it would be foolish to deny that events like these aren’t good for business”.
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