Flu vaccine supplier GSK says it can't fill all of its supply order

Canada's largest flu vaccine supplier says it won't be able to fill about 30 per cent of the amount it was supposed to supply for the upcoming flu season. But other suppliers will be able to fill the gap, health officials say.

GSK was to supply 53% of the vaccine ordered by the provincial, territorial and federal governments

Just under two million doses of flu vaccine, or about 30 per cent of Canada's order, won't be available for the upcoming influenza season, a vaccine supplier says.

British drug maker GSK said Thursday it's identified issues at its Ste-Foy, Que,. influenza vaccine manufacturing facility that will affect its ability to supply Canada with influenza vaccine.

GSK says problems at its production facility in Ste-Foy, Que., have left it with a shortfall about two million doses of seasonal flu vaccine.

"Challenges at our Ste-Foy facility in recent months have interfered with normal production, impacting delivery dates and the total amount of influenza vaccine supply we will make available in the U.S. and Canada for the 2014-15 flu season," the company said in an emailed statement.

The production issues resulted in a shortfall of just under two million doses.

The company, formerly known as GlaxoSmithKline, was under contract to provide nearly 6.4 million doses, 53 per cent of Canada's total purchase of about 12 million doses.

No shortage anticipated

The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) said it has found a replacement supply of vaccine from other manufacturers that share the country’s flu vaccine supply contract.

"There is no shortage of vaccine for this upcoming flu season," the agency said in an email.

"Provinces and territories have already secured delivery of more vaccines than were required last year."

The other companies are Sanofi Pasteur, Novartis and MedImmune, which is owned by AstraZeneca.

Novartis said it will supply another 850,000 doses.

"Novartis is currently working with its global supply network to ensure the additional vaccine doses are delivered in a timely manner for the Canadian population," a spokeswoman said in an email.

The Public Health Agency of Canada is working with the provinces and territories.

"The PHAC … already submitted a supplemental order of 1.2 million doses through separate suppliers to cover this shortfall in additional supply over last year's order; provinces and territories are expected to have almost 12 million doses of vaccine available over the course of the season," the agency said.

A new delivery schedule for the flu vaccine from GSK is still being determined but the agency expects that deliveries will start in the second or third week of October, before flu immunization demand reaches its peak.

GSK said its own monitoring identified the latest problem.

The issue was unrelated to inspections conducted by Health Canada and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, but resulted in a delay on the planned timing of delivery of Canadian vaccine supplies.

In addition, there was an invalid test result for one component of three in the vaccine. The company said it continues to investigate the cause.

In June, GSK received a warning letter from the FDA about conditions at its Ste-Foy plant.

GSK makes seasonal flu vaccine for the Canadian and U.S. markets. The company's FluLaval vaccine is used to immunize people aged three and older against seasonal influenza.

With files from CBC's Marijka Hurko and The Canadian Press


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