Five Drug Makers Get Funding to Develop Bird Flu Vaccine

The federal government on Thursday awarded more than $1 billion to five drug manufacturers to develop technology for speedier mass production of vaccines in the event of a pandemic.

The funding comes from the $3.8 billion that Congress approved last year. The federal government says its goal is to be able to distribute a vaccine to every American within six months of a pandemic. Currently, flu vaccines are produced in specialized chicken eggs, but that technique does not allow for speedy mass vaccinations.

For complete bird flu coverage, visit's Bird Flu Center.

"We have the opportunity to be the first generation that prepares for pandemic," said Mike Leavitt, secretary for the Department of Health and Human Services, before signing the contracts

The companies receiving the contracts were: GlaxoSmithKline, $274.8 million; MedImmune, $169.5 million; Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics, $220.5 million; DynPort, $41 million; and Solvay Pharmaceutical, 298.6 billion.