* Baxter has orders from 5 countries for 80 mln doses
* Will allocate portion of production for WHO use
By Bill Berkrot
NEW YORK, July 16 (Reuters) - While at least 50 governments have placed orders or are negotiating with drug companies for supplies of flu vaccine against the fast spreading H1N1 strain, the lone U.S.-based maker has already taken on as much as it can handle.
Baxter International Inc (BAX.N) said on Thursday it has taken orders from five countries, including Britain, Ireland and New Zealand, for a total of 80 million doses of H1N1 vaccine and will not take any more.
“At this time we’re not in a position to take additional orders,” Baxter spokesman Chris Bona said.
However, Bona said the company has agreed to allocate a portion of its commercial production to the World Health Organization to address global public health issues.
The Illinois-based company said it should be ready to ship H1N1 vaccines by the end of July or early August. Oddly enough, the United States will not be a beneficiary of the Baxter-made vaccine as it has not received Food and Drug Administration approval.
The other four companies producing the vaccine are all European based drugmakers — GlaxoSmithKline Plc (GSK.L), Novartis AG NOVN.VX, Sanofi-Aventis SA (SASY.PA) and AstraZeneca (AZN.L), through its MedImmune unit.
Swiss-based Novartis said earlier Thursday that it had secured several orders for H1N1 vaccines and is in talks with more than 35 governments.
The World Health Organization said up to 4.9 billion doses could be produced in 12 months for the pandemic it has called unstoppable. But if more than one shot is needed and production yields are lower than for seasonal flu vaccine, far fewer people would have access to protection, WHO said. (Reporting by Bill Berkrot; editing by Carol Bishopric)