GlaxoSmithKline ready to work with Japanese drugmakers on bird flu vaccine

TOKYO: GlaxoSmithKline PLC is ready to work with Japanese pharmaceutical companies if the Japanese government agrees to stockpile the company's pre-pandemic vaccine for bird flu, the head of the company's vaccine business said Wednesday.

"We are in contact with all the local vaccine manufacturers" and the Japanese government to discuss the need to prepare for a possible bird flu outbreak among humans, said Jean Stephenne, president of GlaxoSmithKline Biologicals at a news conference in Tokyo.

Britain-based GlaxoSmithKline is one of the world's largest makers of vaccines and is calling on governments to stockpile pre-pandemic influenza vaccine to deal with outbreaks in their early stages.

If a bird flu pandemic hits, Japanese companies could manufacture vaccines using GlaxoSmithKline technology, while its adjuvant system could be applied to existing vaccines.

GlaxoSmithKline's adjuvant system can reduce the dosage from a vaccine for protection and assists in providing protection against similar strains of a virus, improving the chances of controlling mutated versions of the H5N1 bird flu virus, according to Stephenne.

Japan's vaccine market is tightly closed, and major vaccine makers are government-affiliated organizations that don't have very strong funding or research capabilities.

Japan's vaccine development guidelines also differ from those of other major markets and the World Health Organization, making it difficult to import vaccines made overseas. (The Associated Press)


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