February 05, 2010
By Tom Randall
Feb. 5 (Bloomberg) -- Sanofi-Aventis SA shortened the expiration of its pre-filled swine flu shots by as much as 16 months to ensure the potency of the vaccine doesn’t decline.
The shots should be administered by Feb. 15, according to a Web site run by the U.S. Health and Human Services Department. The vaccines previously had expiration dates that varied from March to June 2011. Paris-based Sanofi recalled 800,000 doses of the shot in December, and AstraZeneca Plc withdrew 4.7 million spray vaccines, after tests showed the potency was too low.
Flu rates in the U.S. have declined since peaking in late October, and the virus is no longer widespread in any state, according the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More than 60 million people received a swine flu vaccine by mid- December, the Atlanta-based CDC said. The voluntary recalls were made after routine tests showed declining potency in some batches.
All pre-filled syringes “should now be administered by February 15, 2010, regardless of the expiration imprinted on the package,” according to the U.S. Web site. “This shortened expiration period does not affect Sanofi Pasteur’s 2009 H1N1 vaccine in multi-dose vials.”
Sanofi Pasteur is the vaccine unit of Sanofi.
Swine flu infected 50 million people in the U.S. and killed an estimated 10,000 through Nov. 14 from the start of the pandemic in April, the CDC reported Dec. 10. Influenza kills 36,000 people in the U.S. during a typical flu season, which lasts from November to March.
Spokesmen for Sanofi’s vaccine business in Lyon, France, and Swiftwater, Pennsylvania, didn’t immediately return calls for comment.
--Editors: Bruce Rule, Lisa Rapaport
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