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Largest flu vaccine supplier to come up short

GlaxoSmithKline will provide two million fewer doses of vaccine to Canada in 2014-2015

Canada's largest flu vaccine supplier says it won't be able to fill about 30 per cent of the Canadian order it received for the upcoming 2014-15 flu season.

GlaxoSmithKline, which now goes by the name GSK, says problems at its production facility in Ste. Foy, Que., have left it with a shortfall about two million doses.

The company was to supply 53 per cent of the vaccine ordered by the provincial, territorial and federal governments this year.

GSK says in an email that the production problem was unrelated to the concerns raised earlier this year in inspections by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Health Canada.

The FDA had issued a warning letter after it found a variety of problems in its inspection, a number stemming from bacterial contamination in the plant's water supply.

The company's email does not detail what new problem had led to the vaccine shortfall.

Contingency planning has been underway in Canada since the Ste. Foy plant's  problems were first flagged by the FDA in June.

Other licensed manufacturers have been asked if they could provide additional doses for the Canadian market, though it is unclear if there is enough excess in the system to cover the full two million dose shortfall.

That shortage represents just under 17 per cent of Canada's total vaccine purchase for this year.

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