FLU NEWS SCAN: Vaccine flow irks doctors, adjuvanted vaccine in kids, H3N2 circulating, EU panel favors FluMist

Oct 22, 2010

Michigan doctors raise concerns about slow flu vaccine deliveries
Physicians in Michigan, frustrated by delays in getting seasonal flu vaccine, plan to ask the American Medical Association to lobby for a federal requirement that would put doctors' offices first in line to get the vaccine, ahead of pharmacies and urgent care clinics, the Detroit News reported today. David Share, MD, chairman of the Michigan State Medical Society's Public Health Committee, said that despite plentiful supplies, physician's offices often get only small, periodic deliveries of vaccine, causing them to run short, according to the report. Doctors have raised concerns about not being able to vaccinate their high-risk patients as soon as the vaccine is available and about some pharmacies not keeping detailed records about who was vaccinated. He said pharmacy chains are in a better position to receive the vaccine because they buy larger quantities. However, Donna Cary, a spokeswoman for vaccine maker Sanofi Pasteur, told the News that delivery concerns are becoming less of an issue with plenty of vaccine available, and providers should be able to get as much vaccine as they want when they need it.

Novartis reports high efficacy for its adjuvanted flu vaccine in children
Novartis announced today that a phase 3 trial showed that the company's adjuvanted flu vaccine was highly efficacious in children and worked better than nonadjuvanted vaccines. The vaccine, Fluad, which is not licensed for use in young children, contains the firm's proprietary oil-and-water adjuvant, MF59. It was tested in a trial involving about 4,700 children in Finland and Germany and conducted during the 2007-08 and 2008-09 flu seasons. Children between 6 months and 6 years old were randomly assigned to receive two doses of either Fluad, a standard trivalent vaccine with no adjuvant, or a non-flu control vaccine. Fluad was found to have 89% efficacy against confirmed flu caused by vaccine-matched strains and 86% efficacy against all circulating strains, versus 45% and 43% for nonadjuvanted vaccines, the company said. The findings show that Fluad had 75% higher efficacy than the two nonadjuvanted vaccines used in the trial, Novartis asserted. The firm also said Fluad was generally well tolerated, with rates of local and systemic adverse events similar in the vaccine groups. Systemic reactions were slightly more common in older children who received Fluad, however. Novartis said the trial was the first efficacy study of an adjuvanted flu vaccine in children and the largest randomized, controlled efficacy study of flu vaccination in children between 6 months and 6 years old. The results were announced at the Infectious Diseases Society of America meeting in Vancouver.
Oct 22 Novartis release

WHO says H3N2 continues to be most common flu strain
In its latest flu surveillance report, the World Health Organization (WHO) said yesterday that flu activity is continuing to decline in the Southern Hemisphere and remains low in the Northern Hemisphere, while influenza A/H3N2 remains the most common strain detected. The report, which generally echoes a global report issued yesterday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), covers the period of Sep 26 through Oct 9. Most tropical countries reported decreased activity, but some countries in Southeast Asia and Central and South America, including Jamaica, Colombia, Cambodia, and Thailand, reported an increase, mainly involving H3N2 cases. In North America, Canada had a slight increase in flu-like illness activity. Thirty-five countries reported a total of 2,415 specimens that tested positive for flu during the 2-week period. Of these, 89.7% were influenza A and 10.3% were influenza B. Of the influenza A viruses that were subtyped, 84.5% were H3N2 and 15.5% were 2009 H1N1. Meanwhile, the CDC reported today that US flu activity remained low last week. Twenty-four states described flu activity as sporadic, while 26 states listed no flu activity for the week. Of 92 flu isolates that were reported, 24 were influenza B and 68 were influenza A. Of the influenza A isolates, 11 were 2009 H1N1, 18 were H3N2, and 39 were not subtyped.
Oct 21 WHO flu update
CDC flu update

EU committee recommends FluMist approval for children
AstraZeneca announced today that the advisory panel for Europe's drug regulatory agency has recommended approval of its inhaled flu vaccine, Fluenz—known as FluMist and marketed by MedImmune in the United States—for children ages 2 to 18. The committee forwarded its recommendation to the European Commission, which makes final approval decisions, usually within a few months, according to an AstraZeneca press release. In making its recommendation, the Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) reviewed data from 73 global clinical studies and postmarketing studies conducted in 38 countries.
Oct 22 AstraZeneca press release

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