The Food and Drug Administration approved a new U.S. site to make cell-based flu vaccine Tuesday, saying it will add 50 million doses to the domestic capacity for making shots. The plant in Holly Springs, North Carolina, is owned by Novartis but it got a healthy shot in the arm with $487 million in investments by the U.S. government. The Health and Human Services Department considers U.S.-made flu vaccines an important defense against both seasonal influenza and any pandemics of new flu.
The vaccine, called Flucelvax, is made using dog cells cultured in the lab. The plant will use technology that allows it to respond to an emerging health threat like a pandemic in weeks, not months, said Elizabeth Power, a spokeswoman for Novartis. Health officials have been looking to expand capacity to make flu vaccines quickly. Much of the U.S. flu vaccine supply is made in other countries, and that gives the FDA less control over quality and supply.
First published June 17 2014, 11:00 AM
Maggie Fox is senior health writer for NBCNews.com and TODAY.com, writing top news on health policy, medical treatments and disease.
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She's a former managing editor for healthcare and technology at National Journal and global health and science editor for Reuters based in Washington, D.C. and London.
She's reported for news agencies, radio, newspapers, magazines and television from across Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Europe covering news ranging from war to politics and, of course, health and science. Her reporting has taken Maggie to Lebanon, Syria and Libya; to China, South Korea, Thailand, the Philippines and Pakistan; to Bosnia, Croatia and Serbia and to Ireland and Northern Ireland and across the rest of Europe.
Maggie has won awards from the Society of Business Editors and Writers, the National Immunization Program, the Overseas Press Club and other organizations. She's done fellowships at Harvard Medical School, the National Institutes of Health and the University of Maryland.