U.S. News

U.S. scales back H1N1 vaccine, cuts CSL order in half

SYDNEY (Reuters) - The United States has scaled back its supply of H1N1 flu vaccine, cutting its order with Australian firm CSL Ltd in half, the company said on Monday.

The U.S. move follows other nations which have also cut back swine flu vaccines as health authorities around the world grapple with oversupply due to low demand.

The U.S. government has paid for 251 million doses of vaccine from five makers -- GlaxoSmithKline, AstraZeneca, Sanofi-Aventis, Novartis and CSL Ltd.

The United States last Thursday said it had not made a decision on whether to cancel or sell any of its vaccine orders.

Britain last week said it was talks with Glaxo about reducing further supplies of its H1N1 vaccine and might exercise a break clause in its contract with Baxter International.

Governments across Europe are scaling back orders because of limited vaccine uptake and the fact one dose is enough to protect against the virus, rather than two as originally anticipated.

France has said it aims to cancel 50 million of the 94 million doses ordered from Sanofi-Aventis, Glaxo, Novartis and Baxter, while Germany wants to cancel half the 50 million doses ordered from Glaxo.

Last month, Spain said it was looking to return unused vaccine, and the Netherlands and Switzerland plan to ship surplus supplies to countries still facing a shortage.

Sales of H1N1 vaccines have been a windfall for drugmakers since mid-2009 due to government orders.

Glaxo was expected to be the single biggest beneficiary with anticipated sales of $3.5 billion, according to industry analysts. (Reporting by Michael Perry; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)