Flu vaccine maker Sanofi-Pasteur to build new plant in U.S.

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There is some good news and bad news among flu vaccine makers. The good news: Sanofi-Pasteur is building a new plant in the United States. The bad news: Chiron will not deliver vaccine this season in Europe due to contamination at its German plant.

Sanofi-Pasteur, the largest flu shot provider for the United States, is constructing a $150 million factory in Switfwater, PA. Production should be ready for the 2009 flu season. The plant, which replaces an existing facility, will have more capability for flu vaccine production. Sanofi-Pasteur, the largest flu-shot provider to the U.S., is expected to supply 60 million flu shots this upcoming season.

Despite the contamination, Chiron still plans to produce 18 to 26 million doses for the U.S. this year. The U.S. experienced a flu vaccine shortage last year because Chiron could not ship vaccine from its Liverpool, England, factory because of contamination fears. Vaccine doses were initially limited to the most vulnerable, such as nursing home residents. Chiron's Liverpool factory is still under evaluation.