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Seasonal Flu Vaccines Shipped Early

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Concerns about the swine flu pandemic have led vaccine makers to start shipping seasonal flu vaccines to the U.S. market much earlier than normal.

GlaxoSmithKline PLC and Novartis AG both started shipping seasonal flu vaccines Wednesday, while Sanofi Pasteur started on July 27, the Associated Press reported.

Novartis is "weeks ahead of schedule," Sanofi is about two weeks early, and Glaxo is slightly ahead of its usual mid-August start.

The companies said they expect concerns about swine flu will lead to increased demand of seasonal flu vaccines this year. They also want to complete production of seasonal vaccines to ensure capacity to make swine flu vaccine, the AP reported.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization said Thursday that vaccine manufacturers are on track to start delivering the first batches of swine flu vaccine in September.

According to AP, WHO vaccine director Marie-Paule Kieny said several drugmakers have started testing the vaccine in humans and early safety results should be available next month. Those will clear the way for the vaccine's use.

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