Local biopharmaceutical firm Adimmune Corp (國光生技) made public on Friday its intention to become the only supplier in Taiwan of a human vaccine against A(H1N1), a new influenza strain that broke out in Mexico in April.
Adimmune spokesman Kao Sheng-kai (高勝凱) made the declaration after a tender held by the Department of Health (DOH) earlier in the day for 5 million doses of the vaccine failed because only Adimmune submitted a bid.
The law governing governmental tenders requires that at least three companies submit bids for a tender to be valid.
The DOH, however, will open a second tender next week that according to the Government Procurement Act (政府採購法) will not require a minimum number of bidders or a preset price range, Centers for Disease Control Deputy Director-General Lin Ding (林頂) said.
Kao said that his company, also known as Kuo Kwang Biotechnology Co, intends to vie for the business and become the government’s main supplier of the vaccine.
Foreign suppliers, already unable to meet demand in international markets and unlikely to be able to comply with the government’s targeted October delivery date, have not shown any desire to participate in tenders for the (A)H1N1 vaccine.
Kao said the price of the vaccine for swine flu, which in recent months has spread around the world, has been on the rise because of increasing demand, including the US requirement of some 600 million doses.
Using the case of Novartis AG as an example, Kao said that the Switzerland-based drug company sold the vaccine at between US$8 and US$10 per dose to early buyers, but that this has recently increased to more than US$10 per dose.
Adimmune general manager Ignatius Wei (魏逸之) said the company’s price for the vaccine would be below US$10 per dose, but Kao said on Friday that the final price would be decided by the company’s board of directors.
The DOH said the government had planned to purchase the vaccine at a price of NT$200 per dose, but it would be allowed to raise its purchase price in the second tender.
The only private human vaccine manufacturing company in Taiwan said that it has purchased 8 million chicken eggs to produce the human vaccine against (A)H1N1 using chicken embryos.
Kao indicated that the company has begun the process of producing more than 1.5 doses from one egg, and he estimated Adimmune could produce between 7.5 million and 10 million doses of the vaccine with its available egg stocks.
The DOH would purchase 10 million doses of the (A)H1N1 virus vaccine, 5 million doses of seasonal flu vaccine, and 900,000 doses of the antiviral drug Relenza this year to strengthen its anti-pandemic arsenal, Lin said.
So far, the DOH has secured 2.28 million doses of vaccine against seasonal flu, including 400,000 doses for children, Lin said.