From Kyodo News:
TOKYO, Jun. 28, 2010 (Kyodo News International) — Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare said Monday it has agreed with Swiss drug maker Novartis (NYSE:NVS) AG to cancel part of a deal for H1N1 influenza vaccine because of a larger-than-expected surplus.
The cancellation agreement covers around 8.38 million doses, or 33.5 percent of the 25 million doses the pharmaceutical company had agreed to supply under a contract with the Japanese government.
With the cancellation, the government will save about 1.56 billion yen, although it will pay around 9.22 billion yen as an exit penalty, it said.
Japan has already received delivery of 16.62 million doses, worth 21.4 billion yen, which are set to expire on Wednesday, forcing the ministry to consider the timing and method of disposal.
Both parties have also agreed that if another flu epidemic occurs, Japan will be given priority in receiving up to 40 million doses of the vaccine.
France has similarly canceled about 44 percent of its vaccine deal with Novartis, while Italy is still negotiating but Holland has not cancelled.
Japan already cancelled part of another deal with GlaxoSmithKline Plc of Britain in March, making the total amount paid to the two pharmaceutical firms around 85.3 billion yen, less than the 112.6 billion yen it initially planned to pay.
The Sankai article is in Japanese.