The government spent £239m on the swine flu vaccine, official figures reveal.

The Information Commissioner’s Office ordered the Department of Health to release the data after it failed to comply with a freedom of information request.

The government has always cited commercial confidentiality as a reason for not disclosing the information, but the ICO has since ruled it was in the public interest.

The department subsequently confirmed it had spent £239m on the jab, up to the end of vaccine deliveries in April 2010.

The money was paid to GlaxoSmithKline for its Pandemrix vaccine, and Baxter for Celvapan stocks.

Some 90 million doses were ordered by the UK government, with most of the vaccine supplied by GSK.

In April 2010, the government announced it had struck a deal with GSK to cancel part of its massive order for the vaccine.

The deal saved the UK approximately one third of the original value of the orders with GSK.

However, there were still many leftover doses, although some were used this flu season after usual supplies of the seasonal flu jab ran low.

A spokesman for the Department of Health said today: “The department has released this information in order to comply with the [ICO] decision notice.

“We have gone further than the original request by giving the full information on spend in the interests of transparency and in view of the public interest in this issue.

“We will continue to consider each FOI [freedom of information] case on its merits.”