PARIS – Sanofi-Aventis SA will begin delivering the first doses of its new swine flu vaccine in the United States by mid-October, the head of France's largest pharmaceutical company said Monday.
In an interview with French daily Le Figaro, Chris Viehbacher said Sanofi-Aventis will be able to produce at least 800 million doses of the vaccine per year.
Separately, the company's vaccines division announced in a statement Monday that it had received a new order from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to produce the equivalent of 27.3 million doses, bringing the total U.S. order to 75.3 million doses.
As for deliveries in France, Viehbacher told Le Figaro that they could begin by late November, after approval by European drug regulators.
Last week the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the new swine flu vaccine, a long-anticipated step as the U.S. government works to start mass vaccinations next month.
The vaccine is being made by CSL Ltd. of Australia, Switzerland's Novartis Vaccines, Maryland-based MedImmune LLC and Sanofi Pasteur of France — which produces flu shots at its Swiftwater, Pennsylvania, factory.
London-based GlaxoSmithKline also was expected to supply vaccine.
Typically fewer than 100 million Americans seek flu vaccine every year, and it's unclear whether swine flu — what scientists prefer to call the 2009 H1N1 strain — will prompt much more demand.