Baxter International Inc. has expressed its continued support of the World Health Organization's (WHO) pandemic planning programs through participation in a planned international stockpile program.
In order to provide greater access for H5N1 avian pandemic influenza vaccines in developing countries, the WHO announced today that it would initiate a process to expand its pandemic planning program to include an international stockpile of vaccines for developing countries in the event of a pandemic influenza outbreak. The announcement included that Baxter and three other companies were ready to make some of their candidate H5N1 vaccine available.
WHO is coordinating the global response to human cases of H5N1 avian influenza and monitoring the corresponding threat of influenza pandemic. The organization is taking a lead role to create a global resource for the world and developing countries in response to H5N1 avian influenza. According to WHO, further work is needed on operational planning for the stockpile.
Baxter intends on supporting this program through the WHO by providing a multiyear donation of its candidate pandemic influenza vaccine. Donations to the program will help increase access to needed vaccines in the world's poorest countries in the event of a pandemic. Ensuring that H5N1 vaccines are rapidly and widely available in the event of a pandemic is one of the ways WHO is coordinating a global action plan for pandemic influenza.
Baxter intends to provide additional candidate pandemic influenza vaccine at a price that recognizes the economic and financial circumstances in different parts of the world. This pricing model may help the poorest countries have greater access to vaccines and improve public health.
"Improving access to vaccines in developing countries remains a critical issue. Baxter is committed to improving access and affordability of pandemic flu vaccines in ways that reflect the company's expertise, knowledge and resources," said Kim Bush, president of Baxter's Vaccines business.
Baxter is conducting further clinical testing of its cell culture based adjuvant-free candidate H5N1 (avian) influenza vaccine. Earlier this year, Baxter announced results of a Phase I/II clinical trial using its pandemic flu candidate vaccine. Results indicated the candidate vaccine was well tolerated and developed an excellent immune response in subjects across multiple strains of avian flu.
Baxter is working closely with governments worldwide on pandemic preparation. The company has delivered several million doses of H5N1 pre-pandemic vaccine to various governments around the world. In 2006, Baxter entered into a pandemic preparedness contract with the Austrian Ministry of Health to supply 16 million doses of pandemic influenza vaccine in the event a pandemic is declared. The company recently delivered a stockpile of two million doses of candidate vaccine to the U.K. Department of Health as part of an agreement announced in February 2006.