Chiron slashes flu vaccine production forecast

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Chiron Corp., one of only two major makers of the flu vaccine for the United States, cut its 2005 output forecast due to continuing problems with its Liverpool, England, factory.

The company plans to produce 18 million to 26 million doses of the Fluvirin vaccine for the upcoming season. It previously forecast making 25 million to 30 million doses.

Last year, Chiron failed to ship 50 million shots to the U.S., prompting a vaccine shortage and concerns about the most vulnerable receiving shots. The British government shut down the facility on Oct. 5 after Chiron discovered 4 million tainted flu shots.

GlaxoSmithKline could sell as many as 10 million flu shots in the U.S. this flu season, pending Food and Drug Administration approval of its marketing application. Sanofi is expected to supply 60 million shots and MedImmune Inc. of Gaithersburg, MD, is expected to provide 3 million doses of its nasal spray vaccine.

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