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Denmark's Largest Vaccine Maker Faces Factory Closure Pending Smallpox Vaccine Order From U.S.

“Bavarian Nordic A/S (BAVA), the largest vaccine maker in Denmark, will need to fire hundreds of workers and shut down a factory if it doesn’t receive an order for a smallpox vaccine from the U.S. government by January, the company’s chief executive officer said,” Bloomberg Businessweek reports. “Company officials said they don’t know why the Department of Health and Human Services hasn’t made the order, which they had expected by June,” the news service writes, noting, “The vaccine is meant for people with atopic dermatitis and compromised immune systems, who are at risk of severe adverse reactions to the regular smallpox vaccine.”

“Bavarian Nordic relies on the vaccine, called Imvamune, for 95 percent of its revenue, said Anders Hedegaard, CEO of the Kvistgaard, Denmark-based biotechnology firm,” Bloomberg writes, adding, “It was awarded a $500 million U.S. health contract for 20 million doses in 2007.” According to the news service, “Its product is funded through the federal Project BioShield program, created in 2004 to provide money for vaccines that would be used in the event of a bioterrorist attack.” “The funding expires in 2013 unless Congress acts,” the news service adds, noting Gretchen Michael, a department spokeswoman “said she wasn’t able to predict whether there would be an order” (Ivory, 8/22).