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Novartis says no to free flu vaccines

Swiss drug maker Novartis will not give away vaccines against A/H1N1 flu to poor countries but will consider discounts, according to a report in the Financial Times.

This content was published on June 15, 2009 - 16:17

"If you want to make production sustainable, you have to create financial incentives," Novartis Chief Executive Daniel Vasella said in Monday's edition of the newspaper.

Margaret Chan, the director-general of the World Health Organization, has called for drug companies to show solidarity with poor countries as they develop vaccines against the pandemic A/H1N1 virus, commonly known as swine flu.

Switzerland said on Monday that it wants to work with Basel-based Novartis to bring the vaccine to market.

Novartis is not prepared to begin production yet although it has produced small amounts. Clinical trials are expected to begin in July.

Some 30 countries are interested in buying the vaccine, expected to cost $10-$15 (SFr11-SFr16) per dose. The United States will purchase $289 million worth of the vaccine.

Rivals GlaxoSmithKline, Sanofi-Aventis, Solvay and US specialty manufacturer Baxter International are all working on vaccines.

GlaxoSmithKline has said it will donate 50 million doses of a new vaccine to poor countries.

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