Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccines business of Sanofi-Aventis, has been awarded a $97 million dollar, five-year contract by the US Department of Health and Human Services Department to speed up the production process for a new influenza vaccine in the US. The contract will also see the French company designing a cell-culture vaccine manufacturing facility.

As a result of the agreement, Sanofi Pasteur will accelerate its cell-culture influenza vaccine programme, which is based on Crucell’s PER.C6 cell-line technology, after signing a deal with the Dutch company late in 2003 [[09/01/04d]].

In addition, Sanofi Pasteur will deliver a feasibility plan for the construction of a US-based and licensed cell-culture production plant for supplying up to 300 million influenza vaccine doses per year.

An influenza pandemic is a global epidemic of an especially virulent virus with the potential for severe morbidity and mortality. According to the WHO, the next pandemic is likely to result in 1 to 2.3 million hospitalisations and 280,000 to 650,000 deaths in industrialised nations alone. Its impact will most likely be even more devastating in developing countries.