Tuesday, September 15, 2009

U.S. approves H1N1 vaccine, says enough for everyone:


Tue Sep 15, 2009 5:29pm EDT
By Susan Heavey

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. health officials have approved vaccines from four drugmakers to help prevent the H1N1 swine flu, ensuring there will be enough to inoculate Americans who want the protection, U.S. Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told lawmakers on Tuesday.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration cleared vaccines from Sanofi-Aventis SA, CSL Ltd, Medimmune and Novartis AG for the H1N1 strain of influenza, she said.

"There will be vaccines for everyone," Sebelius said at a hearing of the U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee.

There are about 300 million potential users, she said, adding that not all Americans will opt for the shot. The first doses should be available within the next four weeks, according to the FDA.

Manufacturers and governments have been scrambling for vaccines to target the new H1N1 flu strain, which was declared a pandemic in June. The World Health Organization said it could infect as many as one-third of the world's population, or 2 billion people.

Sebelius said the government has already contracted to buy 195 million doses from a total of five manufacturers and that more purchases are likely depending on how many people decide to get vaccinated.

GlaxoSmithKline Plc is also working to develop a H1N1 vaccine and win FDA approval.

Some skeptics have questioned the safety of the vaccines, especially given the quick development. Clinical trials for most adults began in early August.


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