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Baxter Hoping For Better Luck With Swine Flu Virus

By Marcus Gilmer in News on Apr 28, 2009 4:20PM

2009_04_28_baxter.gif As we mentioned yesterday, Deerfield-based Baxter International wants to get in on coming up with a Swine Flu vaccine. Specifically, Baxter is hoping a new process that speeds up the development time of a vaccine will enable the company to get the vaccine out quicker. The process? According to a story at WBEZ, "using lab-grown cells instead of chicken eggs." Baxter spokesman Chris Bona said on Sunday, "It's done toward potentially developing an experimental vaccine. Just to be clear and not overstate expectations and where we're at, we've just requested a sample for lab testing at this point." According to the WBEZ story, Bona added last night that the company still hasn't received a sample of the swine flu virus and that - admittedly - while the new process has been used to successfully create other vaccines, it's never been done on a timetable in response to a global pandemic, as many fear the swine flu will be.

If Baxter rings a bell, it's because they were the company who accidentally created vaccine samples that were infected with the H5N1 bird flu strain that wound up distributed among a few European countries, including the Czech Republic, for lab testing. In this case, the infected vaccines were made in a Baxter plant in Austria. No lab workers were infected with the virus from the incident and the vaccines were subsequently destroyed, but only after several ferrets were killed by the tainted vaccine.