Bird flu vaccine for chicken feed?

TEXT OF INTERVIEW

SCOTT JAGOW: Drug company GlaxoSmithKline may offer bird flu vaccines to developing countries at cost. Robin Pagnamenta covers the health industry for the Times of London. Robin, please fill us in.

ROBIN PAGNAMENTA: This follows on concern from a number of developing countries, but in particular Indonesia, about the development of pandemic flu vaccines. Indonesian officials in February stopped sharing strains of the H5N1 virus with scientists. Basically Indonesia is concerned that the strains of the virus are being used to develop products that poor countries can't afford. And what's happening is there's now a dialogue between WHO and GSK and possibly other drug companies about a proposal to provide subsidized mass vaccinations.

JAGOW: The subsidies are coming form prices that are charged to the developed countries?

PAGNAMENTA: Well effectively yes. I mean they're being subsidized by the drug companies themselves who obviously make a greater profit in wealthier countries than they do in poorer countries.

JAGOW: And Indonesia halting its supply of bird flu strains to create these vaccines, has that sort of forced the hand of the drug companies to do this?

PAGNAMENTA: Well I think it must of done, because this was the first time that any country had ever done this. It did cause a major upset and they were accused by the drug companies of creating a threat to public health, but at the same time I think the WHO had a certain amount of sympathy for their position.

JAGOW: OK Robin thanks so much.

PAGNAMENTA: OK, thank you.

JAGOW: Robin Pagnamenta is a health reporter with the Times of London.

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