'We're excited about it': CSL talks up new flu vaccine
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'We're excited about it': CSL talks up new flu vaccine

CSL has played up the opportunities on offer from its new cell-based influenza vaccine following results in a "real world" America trial.

In a research and development briefing Wednesday morning, CSL updated analysts and investors on products it is looking to commercialise over the next couple of years.

Hopeful: CSL's chief scientific officer Andrew Cuthbertson.

Hopeful: CSL's chief scientific officer Andrew Cuthbertson.Credit:Jessica Hromas

This included promising "real-world data" from a trial of its cell-based flu vaccine which was shown to be 36 per cent more effective than standard egg-based flu vaccines in preventing influenza-like illnesses during the  influenza season in the United States last winter.

"It's important, we're excited about it," said Gregg Sylvester, the head of medical affairs at CSL subsidiary Seqirus. But he cautioned that it is early days yet.

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"This is not a Phase 3 clinical trial ... this is truly observational real-world data."

CSL's chief scientific officer Professor Andrew Cuthbertson said flu vaccines have been a commodity product for 50 years,and the promising data suggests that this could be a "differentiated" product. And CSL can already manufacture it in volume.

"We are greatly encouraged by the data and with increasing availability of our vaccine look forward to working with partners to generate additional data in future years," said Mr Sylvester.

Heavy selling on Wall Street overnight saw the local market fall at the open before recovering later in the day. CSL fell as much as 3 per cent before finishing on $179.75 down 1.12 per cent by the close.

CSL has been one of the strongest performers on the ASX over the last year, it posted gains of more than 50 per cent between December last year and August this year when it hit a record high of $232 on the back of a strong full year result.

But it is not a cheap stock. UBS put a buy on CSL last month despite the fact that the company trades on a 12 month forward price to earnings (PE) ratio of more than 30, almost double the PE of the ASX200. UBS has a price target of $216 on the stock.

Colin Kruger is a business reporter. He joined the Sydney Morning Herald in 1999 as its technology editor. Other roles have included the Herald's deputy business editor and online business editor.

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