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26 July, 2006 - 09:42 By Staff Reporter

Acambis shares tumble as US demands further tests for Smallpox vaccine

A further knockback from the US government on a new smallpox vaccine has sent shares in Cambridge vaccines specialist Acambis nosediving.Revised demands and warnings of a lower than anticpated payback from the ultimate contract both impacted on the Cambridge company.

A resultant revenues warning prompted the freefall as Acambis lost 25.5p – almost 15 per cent – in the first couple of hours of trading.

The offending update concerned the US Government tender process relating to the Modified Vaccinia Ankara (MVA) attenuated smallpox vaccine.

The US government’s Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is seeking to procure up to 20 million doses of MVA vaccine and Acambis tendered last October and has submitted further responses since as part of the ongoing procurement process.

Now HHS has issued an amendment incorporating a revised pre-clinical and clinical testing requirement, following guidance received from the US Food and Drug Administration. It also extends the delivery period for usable MVA vaccine from 24 months to 60 months from contract award.

Responses to the amendment have to be provided to HHS by mid-August and there will be a further drag before a contract is awarded.

The revised testing requirement received from the FDA also impacts on Acambis' existing cost-plus MVA contractual activities, resulting in certain activities previously anticipated for 2006 continuing into 2007.

The change in timing and, therefore, revenues, it is expected that ‘predictable’ revenues overall will be marginally lower than the guidance for 2006 of £20-25m previously provided.

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