Under the terms of the deal the World Health Organization (WHO) will gain a non-exclusive licence to use Schering’s technology to manufacture seasonal and pandemic live, attenuated, influenza vaccines (LAIV).
The WHO can also sub-licence the technology, allowing manufacturers in developing countries to produce LAIVs using Schering’s embryonated chicken egg platform.
Schering has permitted the WHO to do this within the framework of its Global Vaccine Action Plan. This is the health body’s guide to preparing for a pandemic and includes the goal of increasing capacity in developing countries, which have so far been the worst affected by H5N1.
Fred Hassan, Schering’s chairman and CEO, said: "The avian influenza virus is already affecting several developing countries, making pandemic influenza vaccine preparedness a global health priority.
“Our collaboration with the WHO is most important because it is aimed at allowing many developing countries to gain access to proven influenza vaccine manufacturing platforms."
Manufacturers using the technology under the WHO’s sub-license will be able to provide vaccines to the public sector of developing countries on a royalty-free basis.
GSK challenges pharma to help the poor
Schering’s offering to developing countries comes shortly after GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) outlined its new strategy, which intends to make medicines more affordable for the poor.
This strategy includes sharing patented processes and chemicals with other researchers to help expedite drug discovery programmes.
In addition scientists from other companies, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) or governments are being invited to work at GSK’s tropical disease research facility in Spain.
This boost to research will be supplemented by GSKs plan to improve hospitals, clinics and staff, which will be achieved by reinvesting 20 per cent of any profits made in the least developed countries back into those nations.