All countries are waiting eagerly for the H1N1 vaccine since the outbreak of the swine-flu pandemic, which has killed hundreds if not thousands of people worldwide. As the swine influenza A (H1N1) virus is comparatively new, no vaccine is available at present to prevent the infection. In this respect, French pharmaceutical giant Sanofi-Aventis (SNY) has some good news. The company announced that Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccines division of the group has started the human testing of its H1N1 swine flu vaccine and accordingly filed a supplemental license application with the US FDA.
Sanofi-Aventis is the biggest producer of flu medicines. On approval, the vaccine will have the potential to earn robust revenue for the company. Viewing this potential, many companies are already working on similar vaccines like GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), Novartis (NVS) and Baxter International (BAX).

The vaccine is expected to be available within a short time from Baxter as the company recently declared the completion of production of the first batch of the vaccine. Glaxo expects to manufacture the vaccine within the next two months. The company already has an order book of more than 290 million doses of the vaccine taking estimated value of the orders to about $1.5 billion. We believe if this momentum of orders from several governments continues, the order value can reach up to $ 3 billion.
The vaccine market has emerged as one of the most lucrative segments for a pharmaceutical company. It is expected to grow at a CAGR of over 13% during 2009-2012. The swine flu pandemic is expected to add further growth to this segment. For the last two years, Gardasil from Merck (MRK) for the treatment of cervical cancer and Wyeth’s (WYE) Prevnar (for illness caused by pneumococcal bacteria) were the top selling vaccines. Now, GSK should be able to corner a significant share of this segment with its H1N1 vaccine.

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