Chiron reports contamination problem at European facility

Chiron continued its run of bad luck, reporting this morning that contamination problems at the company's plant in Germany are likely to hurt production of one of its flu vaccines for the upcoming flu season. The company said it probably will only be able to produce 4 million doses of Begrivac rather than the 12 million it had been expected to deliver. The news only affects Chiron's international customers but is expected to increase competition over the remaining global vaccine supply.

Last month, Chiron stunned observers by lowering its production forecast for Fluvirin, the vaccine it distributes to customers in North America, to 18-26 million doses from an earlier estimate of around 30 million doses. Given the company's recent problems, some analysts are worried that the company may have similar contamination issues at its Liverpool manufacturing facility. FDA inspectors began their two week review of that facility on Thursday.

- see this story from The Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)