Chiron Corp., Emeryville, Calif., said it received a grand jury subpoena from the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York requesting documents related to Chiron's Fluvirin influenza vaccine and the suspension of the company's manufacturing license for its Liverpool, England, plant. Chiron officials said they intend to fully cooperate with the probe. The U.K. temporarily suspended Chiron's license last week, cutting the expected U.S. supply of flu vaccine by about half. In other legal actions related to flu vaccine supply, the Kansas attorney general sued pharmaceutical distributor Meds-Stat, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., for alleged price-gouging. Meds-Stat allegedly proposed to deliver and sell a vial of five doses of flu vaccine to a Kansas City, Kan., pharmacy for $900, Attorney General Phill Kline said in a news release. The price for a vial of the same size was listed as $85 Oct. 1.
Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and vaccine-maker Aventis Pasteur began the first phase of a plan to allocate about 22.4 million doses of unshipped flu vaccine to high-priority providers, such as hospitals, long-term-care facilities, nursing homes and providers who care for young children. About 14.2 million doses of vaccine will be distributed over the next six to eight weeks; the remaining 8.2 million doses will be distributed later. -- by Cinda Becker