GSK boosted by flu vaccines

SHARES in GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) got a lift yesterday after the pharmaceuticals firm said it had won a further 22 government orders for its swine flu vaccine in the last two months.<br /><br />The new contracts take the number of doses of the H1N1 vaccine ordered from GSK to 440m, worth some $3.5bn (&pound;2.2bn), a considerable sales windfall for the company. <br /><br />GSK said that the first supplies were being shipped to governments this week and that deliveries would continue through both the fourth quarter of 2009 and the first half of 2010. Governments around the world are preparing to start mass immunisation programmes ahead of a feared second wave of infections as the northern hemisphere heads into winter. Glaxo previously said it expects to sell its H1N1 vaccine for around the same price as seasonal flu shots, which fetch about &pound;5 a dose, implying its total booked orders are now worth some &pound;2.2bn. It also has a variety of agreements in place with the US government to supply pandemic products worth an additional $250m.<br /><br />Rivals in flu vaccines include Sanofi-Aventis, Novartis, Baxter, AstraZeneca and CSL.<br /><br />But Glaxo believes it has an edge because its vaccine uses a special adjuvant &ndash; a substance designed to boost the immune response &ndash; which means only a fraction of the normal amount of the active ingredient is needed in each shot.<br /><br />In addition to bumper vaccine revenue, Glaxo also stands to book extra sales of flu drug Relenza, a rival to Roche&rsquo;s Tamiflu, and has received the backing of a US Food and Drug Administration panel for its experimental kidney cancer drug Votrient.<br /><br />GSK shares closed up one per cent at 1,236p last night.<br />