News Scan for Jan 08, 2014

Liquid Tamiflu shortage
Measles in Europe
India almost 3 years polio-free

FDA expects temporary shortage of liquid oseltamivir

Increased demand and manufacturing delays are expected to cause a temporary shortage of the liquid form of the influenza drug oseltamivir (Tamiflu) in coming days, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced on its Web site.

The oral suspension formulation is intended for small children and others who can't swallow capsules.

"Genentech is experiencing temporary delays in manufacturing of Oral Suspension. A brief shortage of Oral Suspension is expected in early to mid January," the FDA said on its "Current Drug Shortages" page. The agency also listed increased demand as a reason for the shortage. The company expects to have more of the product in mid-January, officials said.

Oseltamivir remains available in capsules at all three doses (30, 45, and 75 milligrams), the FDA reported. It said children over 1 year old can be dosed correctly with 30- or 45-mg capsules. For those who can't swallow capsules, a capsule can be opened and mixed with chocolate syrup or some other liquid as directed by a health professional. Also, professionals can use 75-mg capsules to make a liquid form of the drug.

Scattered shortages of the liquid drug were reported in several recent years, including 2013, 2011, and the 2009 pandemic, prompting pharmacies to compound it from capsules.
FDA shortages page covering oseltamivir
Jan 11, 2013,
CIDRAP News story noting shortages


Measles still too common in Europe, says ECDC

The 30 countries in the European Union and European Economic Area (EU and EEA) had 12,096 measles cases from November 2012 through October 2013, which is well below 2010 and 2011 levels but still too high, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) reported yesterday.

"The number remains unacceptably high, considering that measles and rubella are targeted for elimination in Europe by 2015," the agency said. The reported cases included three deaths and eight cases of acute measles encephalitis.

Countries that reported the most cases were Germany, 14%; Italy, 28%; the Netherlands, 18%; Romania, 14%; and the United Kingdom, 19%. The Netherlands had the highest incidence at 130 cases per million people.

By age-group, incidence was highest in infants under 1 year old, at 172 cases per million, followed by 1- to 4-year-olds, 93 per million, and 10- to 14-year-olds, 74 per million.

Of 9,882 cases in which patient vaccination status was known, 87% of patients were unvaccinated, 9% had received one dose of measles vaccine, 0.5% had received two or more doses, and 4% had received an unknown number of doses.

As for rubella, the ECDC said 27 EU and EEA countries reported 39,122 cases over the same 12-month period, with Poland accounting for 99% of them. Fewer than 1% of cases were lab-confirmed.
Oct 2013 ECDC report (released Jan 7, 2014)


India on cusp of being declared completely polio-free

Declared free of endemic polio 2 years ago, India may soon be classified as completely polio-free by the World Health Organization (WHO), The Hindu, India's national newspaper, reported yesterday.

The WHO will declare the country polio-free if no polio cases are detected by Jan 13, the country's health minister, Ghulam Nabi Azad, told The Hindu. "Any country that does not have a case of polio for 3 consecutive years is declared polio-free by the WHO," Azad said.

The last case of polio in India was detected in January 2011 in West Bengal's Howrah district, near Kolkata. In 2009, India had 50% of the world's polio cases, the story said.
Jan 7 Hindu report

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