40 Million Doses of H1N1 Vaccine Will Be Burned

>> Monday, July 5, 2010


About a quarter of the swine flu vaccine produced for the U.S. public has expired — meaning that a whopping 40 million doses worth about $260 million is being written off as trash.

About 30 million more doses will expire later and may go unused, according to one government estimate. If all that vaccine expires, more than 43 percent of the supply for the U.S. public will have gone to waste.

Millions of doses of flu vaccine generally go unused every year and are marked for burning, but in recent years the leftovers amounted to closer to 10 percent of the supply, rather than the 25 percent expiring now. Government flu experts couldn't recall throwing away anything close to 40 million doses before.

In Europe, where nations also found themselves with millions of unused doses, some commentators have attacked the World Health Organization, which declared swine flu a global epidemic, or pandemic.
The critics have questioned the motivation of some WHO advisers who had links to the pharmaceutical industry.
Unused flu vaccine is a common problem. The June 30 expiration date is set by the FDA and has less to do with the vaccine's shelf life than the desire to tweak the recipe each year to protect against the three flu strains expected to cause the most illness.

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