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Millions of sharks killed for shark liver oil.|
Shark Oil Demand
Although vaccines containing squalene have not yet been approved for use in the U.S., they are being distributed elsewhere, including Europe and Canada.
Novartis, a drug company that produces swine flu vaccines containing shark squalene, did not answer requests for information about its squalene supply.
GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), another major swine-flu vaccine producer, announced in October that it had received orders for 440 million doses of vaccine containing adjuvant.
And the adjuvant in GSK's vaccines—which have been administered in 26 countries so far—contains shark-liver squalene, company spokesperson Clare Eldred confirmed in a statement.
GSK wouldn't reveal the name of its supplier or the annual quantity of shark squalene it buys. But Eldred told National Geographic News that the drug company takes about 10 percent of its supplier's total output.
O'Malley, of the Shark Safe Network, estimates that GSK's 440 million doses would require at least 9,700 pounds (4,400 kilograms) of shark oil, based on the stated squalene content of 10.69 milligrams in a dose.
This estimate, however, assumes zero waste and no refining of the squalene once it's been extracted from the sharks, O'Malley said.