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Breaking swine flu news

June 11: WHO declares first full-scale pandemic in 41 years

It's official. The World Health Organization declared a Phase 6 pandemic alert this morning--the first such warning since 1968. In raising the pandemic alert to its highest level, the WHO warned all its 194 member nations to prepare for the arrival of a new strain of H1N1. Read more...

June 10: Four big vax makers charge ahead with swine flu programs

Vaccine teams for four of the world's largest vaccine manufacturers say they have the seed stock they need to develop a new swine flu vax for use this autumn. But the researchers add that they're still uncertain just how much of the growing demand for the vaccine can be met. Read more...

June 4: Billions budgeted for swine flu as programs launch

With the World Health Organization readying a declaration of a phase 6 pandemic alert for swine flu, scientists for the world's vaccine makers have gotten down to the business of developing a new vaccine and taking orders for tens of millions of doses. Read more...

June 3: Bloomberg: WHO readies phase 6 pandemic alert

World Health Organization Director-General Margaret Chan is wrestling with a thorny dilemma: How do you declare a phase 6 pandemic--the first warning in 41 years that a flu virus is entrenched in different continents and spreading from person to person--without causing a global panic? Read more...

June 2: Swine flu vaccine business ramps up

As FluMist maker MedImmune announced its win of an HHS contract for the manufacture of a single-strain live H1N1 influenza vaccine, biotech equipment and services supplier Sartorius Stedim announced several large orders for consumables from leading vaccine manufacturers linked to H1N1 vaccine testing. The consumables supplier even added that "the orders received and the further ones expected will likely add more than one percentage point to Sartorius Stedim Biotech's annual sales and contribute overproportionately to its profit." Read more...

May 28: Vax makers in global race to create swine flu jab

With new cases of swine flu springing up daily, Australia has ordered 10 million doses of a new vaccine being developed by CSL, which is engaged in a worldwide race to develop a jab as governments around the globe start lining up to buy. Read more...

May 26: Flu stimulates incubator demand

Sheldon Manufacturing is meeting high demand for laboratory incubators due to the outbreak of the H1N1 virus. Read more...

May 26: U.S. budgets $1B to fuel swine flu research

With new swine flu fatalities being reported in the U.S., Canada and Mexico, the U.S. government has decided to dole out a billion dollars to a group of major vaccine manufacturers to fuel the rapid development of a new vaccine. Read more...

May 20: Glaxo expects vax orders to spike as WHO outlines deadlines

With Japanese officials calling for calm as swine flu starts spreading in the island nation, the World Health Organization is pressing a group of global vaccine manufacturers to get ready to mass-produce a new flu vaccine.  WHO wants Sanofi-Aventis and others to have a vaccine identified and ready to go by mid-July. Read more...

May 19: Lab delays to slow arrival of swine flu vax

It turns out that vaccine developers won't be able to start production on a new vaccine until mid-July as scientists discover that its more difficult than expected to create seed stock. Read more...

May 14: Most Americans shrug off swine flu outbreak

While the U.S. government weighs the wisdom of rolling out a program to vaccinate citizens against swine flu, most adults appear ready to do without. Read more...

May 14: Swine flu outbreak could translate into PR coup

The swine flu outbreak may be just what the pharma marketing folks need to help in their makeover of a badly tainted image. Read more...

May 14: UK ordering up new flu vax stockpile

Health ministers in the UK say that they aren't waiting to see if the WHO will declare a level six pandemic alert. They're ready to order enough swine flu vaccine for the entire population. Read more...

May 14:  WHO meets as experts demand new flu vax

Officials with the world's leading vaccine suppliers will meet with regulators and scientists at the World Health Organization today to consider whether to launch a massive three to six-month effort to begin manufacturing a global stockpile of swine flu vaccine. Read more...

May 13: Use flu-fighters sparingly, pregnant women first

Even as the World Health Organization is advising European countries to go easy on the Tamiflu, experts have identified one group of patients that needs antivirals, quickly and definitely. Pregnant women are at a high risk of complications from the H1N1 "swine" flu, so they need to get Tamiflu as soon as possible after diagnosis, even though the drug isn't usually recommended for use during pregnancy. Read more...

May 11: Bio-opportunists get slammed

Biotech writer Trista Morrison curls a lip at the biotech companies that sought to seize the spotlight as swine flu news swept the world. Read more...

May 8: Online flu tracking yields hype epidemic

As much as any of us might be advocates of information technology, it's still worth questioning mass media infatuation with Google Flu Trends, the application that tracks web searches incorporating such terms as "flu symptoms" or "treatment for flu" to estimate disease spread. Read more...

May 7: Manufacturers scramble to make new vax

As governments around the world ponder the need for vaccinating their citizens against the swine flu outbreak, manufacturers around the world are rushing ahead with plans to satisfy the demand. Read more...

May 6: WHO will consider switch to swine flu vax

Vaccine experts at the World Health Organization plan to gather next week to consider whether the world's vaccine industry should start as early as May 14 to begin making mass quantities of a new swine flu vaccine. Read more...

May 6: U.S. reviews multibillion-dollar flu campaign

The Obama administration is considering whether the country should launch a fall vaccine campaign that administers three jabs, one for seasonal flu and two more to guard against swine flu. Read more...

May 6: Labs ready seed stock needed for swine flu jab

In order to gear up mass production of a new vaccine for swine flu, scientists must first develop "seed stock," a form of the virus that can grow swiftly in eggs. The CDC has already distributed samples to 10 labs in the U.S. and around the world to get that process started, according to the New York Times. Read more...

May 5: H1N1 prompts action on FDA nominee

Guess it takes the threat of a flu pandemic to get the U.S. Senate moving on a new FDA commissioner. The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee will now talk about nominee Peggy Hamburg (photo) this Thursday, rather than waiting until next week as planned. Read more...

May 4:  In days, swine flu becomes topic A for scientists

The Los Angeles Times followed the swine flu from its identification in San Diego to the level 5 pandemic alert that it triggered in a matter of days. Read more...

May 4: Glaxo, Roche combat antiviral hoarding

GlaxoSmithKline and Roche have been reduced to playing flu-drug traffic cop. Because the worried well are snapping up drugs all over the world, prompting shortages in some places, the drugmakers are strategically allocating their stocks. Read more...

May 4: Two flu drugs better than one

Don't put only one flu drug in your stockpile basket, scientists are saying. To keep antiviral resistance at bay, countries are better off with more than one option. Read more...

May 4: Scientists scramble to understand A/H1N1

Virologists have been working around the clock to gain a better understanding of the A/H1N1 flu virus. The Wall Street Journal notes that the key points of interest are the mortality rate, ease of spread and incubation time. And field teams from the World Health Organization and CDC are in Mexico trying to find out why the virus has been lethal in Mexico but usually quite mild in the U.S. and the 16 other countries it has spread to. Read more...

April 30: Novartis readies key adjuvant for swine flu use

Novartis will use data on a new vaccine adjuvant as it moves to design a new jab specifically for swine flu. The pharma giant, a major vaccine manufacturer which received the genetic code of the new virus earlier this week, said that adding the adjuvant MF59 to the pre-pandemic H5N1 vaccine Aflunov demonstrated a broad immune response across all antigenic strains of bird flu. Read more...

April 30: Mexico orders shutdown to slow swine flu

Anxious to slow the spread of a swine flu epidemic that has now claimed up to 176 victims, the Mexican government is ordering most people to stay home for five days. Companies and government offices non-essential to the economy will be closed beginning Friday. Read more...

April 30: FDA teams up for flu fight

Obligatory swine flu update, alphabet soup edition: The WHO raised the pandemic threat level to 5 (pandemic imminent or inevitable). The FDA charged seven internal "teams" with influenza-management jobs. The CDC faces a tough decision on whether to go full-bore after a vaccine, especially as virologists are starting to think this H1N1 strain may not even be as severe as the seasonal flu (just as Sanofi-Aventis's Chris Viehbacher (photo) predicted yesterday.) Officials are talking to the House Energy and Commerce Committee about the outbreak. And HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius (photo) is set to participate in an all-flu-star webcast later today; submit your questions now. Read more...

April 29: Clamor for flu drugs clears store shelves

Forget runs on shaky banks. Now, the big run is on pharmacies as a nervous public clamors for anti-flu meds. Pharmacies all over the world are running out of Roche's Tamiflu, from Trinidad and Tobago to Queensland, Australia, to Singapore to Los Angeles. Folks are showing up with scrips in hand--sometimes dozens in a day--depleting the stocks even before disease breaks out. Read more...

April 29: Swine flu continues to spread in US

The U.S. has experienced the second highest rate of swine flu infection with 66 confirmed cases as of Wednesday morning. The virus has reached New York, Kansas, Ohio, Texas, Indiana and California. According to the CDC, most of those infected have experienced only mild symptoms and treated successfully. However, five individuals have been hospitalized due to infection and on Wednesday, officials confirmed the death of a 23-month old toddler in Texas, Bloomberg reports. Read more...

April 29: Trade seasonal vaccine for swine flu shot?

With the swine flu outbreak advancing by the hour, hopeful eyes are watching vaccine-makers. We've heard stand-by pledges from Baxter International, Roche, Novartis, and others--and today, Sanofi-Aventis added its voice to the choir. But CEO Chris Viehbacher (photo) also sounded a note of caution: If the company focuses on developing a shot against swine flu, it won't be able to churn out its usual season flu vaccines, too. Read more...

April 29: Swine flu death confirmed in TX as vax experts plan response

The World Health Organization has called an emergency session today to evaluate the spread of swine flu so the organization can get a better idea of just how serious a threat this is to the world's population. Read more...

April 29: Big challenge looms over swine flu vax production

Armed with large federal subsidies and a strong desire to exchange the old, egg-based vaccine production method with something far more efficient, vaccine makers have been moving closer to a new cell-based system. But despite years of hard work, the cell-based approach will not be perfected in time to provide the vaccine supplies that could be needed to fight a bird flu pandemic. Read more...

April 28: Obama asks for $1.5B to fight flu; Schwarzenegger declares state of emergency

President Barack Obama asked Congress for $1.5 billion today to fight a new version of swine flu that is spreading in the U.S. and around the world.California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, meanwhile, declared a state of emergency after health officials began to probe the deaths of two people who may have been infected with swine flu. Read more...

April 28: Researchers launch new programs for swine flu vax

Switzerland's Novartis has received the genetic code for the new swine flu virus that is raising alarms around the globe. And it hopes to get a sample of the actual virus soon as it begins work on a new vaccine that will guard against the disease. Read more...

April 28: Drug fakers see opportunity in flu

Leave it to spammers to make a bad situation worse: Swine flu may be spreading, but bogus anti-flu claims are spreading faster. Thanks to unscrupulous companies out to turn a buck from people's fear, in-boxes all over the world are filling up with swine-flu spam. And though so far they haven't invoked Big Pharma brands, analysts expect spammers to promise Tamiflu and Relenza soon enough. Read more...

April 28: FDA OKs emergency drug use to combat flu outbreak

The FDA has authorized the emergency use of antivirals and diagnostic tests to help fight the spread of swine flu in the United States. Read more...

April 28: FDA allows off-label use of anti-flu meds

With swine flu leaping international boundaries at an accelerated pace, FDA authorized broader use of the antivirals Tamiflu (Roche) and Relenza (GlaxoSmithKline)--and allowed a broader cross-section of professionals and volunteers to distribute the meds. Read more...

April 28: Researchers crack flu genetic code

Scientists say they have cracked the genetic code of the new A/H1N1 flu virus that broke out in Mexico and has rapidly circumvented the globe. Read more...

April 27: WHO raises swine flu threat level

The World Health Organization has raised the threat level for a swine flu pandemic to level four after Mexico announced that the death toll had reached almost 150 and more cases were reported in the U.S. and around the world. Level four requires the mass production of vaccines and emergency support for health systems that are facing the brunt of the viral attack. Read more...

April 27: Roche, Glaxo ramping up on flu meds

Public health emergency. Pandemic potential. Emergency WHO meeting. The phrases thrown around over the weekend and into this morning may be worrisome for John Q. Public, but they're fighting words for some drugmakers. Roche and GlaxoSmithKline, et al, are gearing up for a possible swine flu pandemic. Let's see how. Read more...

April 27: Flu stocks on the rise as disease spreads

The world may be waiting for WHO to determine whether the swine flu outbreak is indeed a pandemic, but investors aren't waiting to place their money on "yes." Pharma stocks in general are on the rise, despite an overall downward trend. And companies with direct flu links are rising even more. Read more...

April 27: Biotech companies scramble as swine flu spreads

You can expect to see a considerable amount of scrambling among vaccine makers as swine flu grabs headlines and raises fears of a global pandemic. The Chicago Tribune reported Monday morning that Baxter International has requested a swine flu sample so that it can get to work developing a vaccine that can guard against this new strain of flu. Read more...

April 26: U.S. declares swine flu health emergency

The U.S. government announced a health emergency on Sunday afternoon as the number of swine flu cases climbed. Eight students in New York tested positive for swine flu, adding another state to the roster. California, Texas, Kansas and Ohio have all confirmed swine flu cases as well. Read more...

April 24: Swine flu outbreak triggers pandemic alarm

Health officials are starting to scramble as it appears that a new strain of swine flu has triggered an outbreak in Mexico and raises the prospect of a global pandemic. The World Health Organization says that it is trying to determine exactly what has killed 57 people suffering from the flu. Read more...

April 24: Swine flu death toll climbs

Health officials are scrambling this weekend to contain an outbreak of swine flu in Mexico which raises the prospect of a global pandemic. The latest death toll in Mexico is 81, as of Saturday night, according to Reuters. And more than 1,300 people have been infected. Read more...

April 23: Scientists track new swine flu virus

The CDC has mustered a group of 50 scientists and epidemiologists to study a rare new strain of swine flu that afflicted two children in the San Diego area last month. Read more...