* Relenza production to triple
* New antiviral mask also winning approval
WASHINGTON, July 22 The pandemic of H1N1 swine
flu has been a bonus for GlaxoSmithKline (GSK.N), which makes
the inhaled flu drug, a vaccine and special antiviral masks,
the company said on Wednesday.
The world's second-biggest drug maker said orders for a
vaccine against H1N1 helped drive up second-quarter earnings
with more to come.
The company also said it was boosting production of its
inhaled influenza drug Relenza, known generically as zanamivir,
as the pandemic has worsened.
"As a result, GSK now expects to increase its annual
production capacity of Relenza to 190 million treatment courses
by the end of 2009. This represents a threefold increase to
GSK's previous maximum capacity of 60 million treatment
courses," the company said in a statement.
Relenza is one of two drugs approved for use against H1N1.
Some samples of the virus have begun to show signs of
resistance to Tamiflu, the pill made by Roche AG ROG.VX under
license from Gilead Sciences Inc (GILD.O), so some governments
are ordering more Relenza just in case this trend worsens.
Glaxo has adapted two technologies for delivering asthma
drugs, a Diskhaler and Rotacaps. The Rotacaps, which deliver
the dry drug powder in capsules to an inhaler device, have
temporary approval from Sweden and the company said it was
working with other governments to approve it.
"GSK has contracts in place to supply Relenza to over 60
governments. GSK has also allocated 10 percent of its new
Relenza production capacity for developing countries," the
company said, including 2 million doses of Relenza to the World
The company also hopes to profit from its disposable
respirator, a specially fitted type of mask, which has an
"Actiprotect has been approved for use in Europe and
certain international markets and last month was approved for
occupational use in the United States by the FDA," the company
said. It has limited capacity to make the masks, however.
While surgical masks were popular during the worst of the
H1N1 epidemic in Mexico, experts say they do little to protect
wearers, and even respirators must be used carefully to be
(Reporting by Maggie Fox)