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 CoG for Life announced today that four new H1N1 (swine flu) vaccines approved late last week by the FDA do not use aborted fetal cell lines. The four vaccines are made by Sanofi Pasteur, Novartis, CSL and Medimmune and all are using chick eggs.
"We are pleased that the pharmaceutical companies have chosen these cell lines for this year's H1N1 vaccines," stated Executive Director Debi Vinnedge. "There are enough concerns about public health and safety without compounding the problems with moral issues."
She noted that there are two methods of possibly producing flu and H1N1 vaccines: chick embryo or cell culture. Chick embryo is the standard method that has been used to produce all flu vaccines for several years. The problem with this method is that every time a new batch of vaccines is needed, fresh eggs must be used, making it more difficult to get vaccines to the market in a timely manner for the flu season each year.
Because of this, the pharmaceutical industry has been working on a method that would speed development and processing time by using an established cell culture. Unlike chick embryo, cell lines are developed, FDA approved and then frozen for future use so production time is considerably shorter. Several pharmaceutical companies such as Medimmune, Protein Science and Novavax are developing these future flu vaccines using a moral cell culture, such as MDCK or insect cells. But some manufacturers like Sanofi Pasteur and Vaxin are developing their cell culture vaccines using aborted fetal cell line, PER C6.
"It is completely unnecessary to use aborted fetal cell lines," said Vinnedge. "If these companies truly cared about the health of the public they would take into consideration the moral concerns of millions of families who are going to refuse their products."
Vinnedge has been keeping a close watch on the cell culture process and early clinical trials show the morally produced vaccines may hit the market first –a welcome relief for both parents and medical professionals who have been urging the industry to use ethically produced cell lines. (See  and
Earlier this year, the FDA also approved regular flu vaccines for the 2009-2010 season, which likewise are morally produced on chick eggs ( Long term, it is a matter of waiting to see which company's cell culture vaccine will win FDA approval first.
She noted that if the Centers for Disease Control and FDA want to ensure as many people as possible receive these future vaccines, it would be wise to encourage the drug companies to use moral cell lines.
"There is no reason why anyone should have to compromise the health and safety of their families because of their deeply held moral and religious beliefs," Vinnedge stated. "It's high time our government and the pharmaceutical industry start listening to the public!"
[21Sept09,  Debi Vinnedge, 615-898-1070, [email protected], TN, ]