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Baxter Healthcare SA, a division of Baxter International (NYSE:BAX) announced late Tuesday that it had won a preparedness contract from the Austrian Ministry of Health [MOH] for a pandemic influenza vaccine.

Under the three year agreement, Baxter Healthcare will provide the MOH with 16 million doses of the influenza vaccine in case of a national pandemic. That is enough to treat the entire population of the country.

Baxter is also under contract to provide 2 million doses of H5N1 vaccine to the United Kingdom government, and is in talks with the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases to develop a cell based culture H5N1 vaccine.

The increasing interest in Baxter's vaccine was motivated by phase I/II clinical results of its inactivated wild-type H5N1 pandemic vaccination of 270 patients last month. The vaccine was shown to be well tolerated in humans.

Baxter now needs to carry out a much larger vaccination trial to prove its effectiveness in a wider and more diverse population of test subjects.

Shares of Baxter closed on Tuesday at $44.90, near its 52-week high of $47.49 reached just last month.

BAX 1-yr chart:

BAX 22 11 06

Source: Baxter Wins Austrian Influenza Contract