By Brady Huggett

Chiron Corp. and its distributor, Merck Frost Canada Ltd., entered an agreement valued at about $50 million with the Quebec Ministry of Health to distribute Chiron¿s Menjugate vaccine in the Canadian province.

The vaccine is for the prevention of meningococcal C disease. It will be distributed in autumn for children more than 2 months old, adolescents and young adults less than 20 years of age. The Quebec government is putting up C$75 million (US$48.78 million) ¿ payment for both Chiron and Merck Frost ¿ for the approximately 1.7 million doses.

¿We are very pleased to feed the expansion of the product because it meets a pressing public health need,¿ John Gallagher, media relations manager at Chiron, told BioWorld Today.

Menjugate is a conjugate vaccine made of purified capsular polysaccharide linked to a protein carrier. The vaccine was first approved in the United Kingdom in March 2000 and Chiron, of Emeryville, Calif., pulled in $100 million through an agreement with the UK¿s National Health Services. (See BioWorld Today, Oct. 13, 1999.)

With the product approved in the UK, Ireland, Hungary and Canada, Chiron is seeking Menjugate approval in the United States. Gallagher said Chiron is ¿engaged in a series of discussions¿ with the FDA regarding safety data.

Chiron is developing a conjugate vaccine for the prevention of meningococcal B disease, with clinical trials scheduled to begin sometime in 2001 or 2002.

Chiron¿s stock (NASDAQ:CHIR) climbed $1.24 Wednesday to close at $45.51.

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