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Old 07-19-2009, 02:51 AM   #1
Avalon Senior Member
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Perth Western Australia
Posts: 289
Default Monopoly blocks swine flu vaccine

Monopoly blocks swine flu vaccine
July 17, 2009 09:30pm

A SMALL Adelaide firm that has created a "superior" swine flu vaccine will be forced to sell its product overseas because of a monopoly on the market by a company contracted by the Federal Government.
Vaxine, based at Flinders Medical Centre, will start human clinical trials of its vaccine next week, at the same time biotechnology company CSL, which is preparing 21 million doses of vaccine for the Government, will begin its trials.
Vaxine director Professor Nikolai Petrovsky says his award-winning company's vaccine is safer. "(CSL's) vaccine is last-century manufacturing technology," he said.
"It was developed 50 years ago and involves growing viruses in eggs and inactivating them and injecting that into people. It's an old-fashioned approach.
"It's scandalous because it's Australians who are dying from this and they (the Government) are blocking what is a proven technology from moving forward to protect CSL's monopoly . . . I don't see where that is fair, rational or in the interests of the Australian public.
"We're creating a completely synthetic vaccine . . . it's highly pure, it doesn't have the same side effects as the viral vaccine, and hopefully it's much more effective."
Professor Petrovsky said CSL had a multibillion-dollar operation with thousands of staff, while Vaxine operated on "zero" money and less than 20 staff, yet it had created one of the most advanced vaccines "in the world".
The United States has funded much of the research, and Vaxine is negotiating sales to the U.S. and Japan.
"I think CSL are immensely powerful in science research circles in Australia," Dr Petrovsky said. "In effect they . . . control the decision-making.
"They're very powerful lobbyists and they like having a monopoly.
"They have a monopoly on vaccine manufacture in Australia and I'm sure they'll do everything in their power to maintain that."
CSL public affairs spokeswoman Dr Rachel David said that in the current situation it was important to respond as quickly as possible with proven technology, and that only CSL had the capacity to do that.
"Obviously any new advances in the areas of flu vaccination are interesting and exciting," she said.
"(But) even to get a priority or a fast-tracked approval for a new technology is 12 months.
"Then you would have to secure manufacturing capacity. All this takes years, so we are not intentionally, and we would not intentionally, shut anyone out of the market."
Federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon's spokesman said the Government had signed contracts with CSL five years ago for the provision of vaccines.
Ironically, Vaxine's struggle comes just a fortnight after it was announced the research company had been nominated for the state's highest award for a small business.
On Thursday the company was awarded the AMP Innovation Award – one of three categories it was nominated for in the South Australian Telstra Business Awards.
Vaxine had been competing in the areas of innovation, social responsibility and small business of the year.

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