Approval Date: Nov. 20
Protects Against: Influenza
One knock on the influenza vaccine is the amount of time it takes to produce. Traditional flu vaccines are manufactured using fertilized chicken eggs, a costly and time-consuming process. Novartis ($NVS) sidestepped that method by using cell-culture technology to make its newly approved Flucelvax. Approved for the first time Nov. 20, the vaccine is grown in mammal cells. The technique is not new; cell-culture technology has been used for several decades to produce other U.S.-licensed vaccines. Cell-culture technology proves advantageous because it allows the vaccine manufacturing process to be started more quickly in the event of a pandemic.
"The approval of Flucelvax is an important milestone for our influenza franchise and brings an innovative vaccine to the U.S.," Andrin Oswald, head of Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics, said at the time of approval. "Modern cell-culture technology will likely become the new standard for influenza vaccine production and we are proud to lead the way."
The vaccine will be moved to Novartis' Holly Springs, NC, plant when it is approved for production. Novartis is building the plant with about $500 million in support from the U.S. government. It's a product to keep an eye on when the 2013-2014 flu season rolls around.