AstraZeneca takes on pediatricians

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The American Academy of Pediatricians says an AstraZeneca drug for preemies should be used less often, and the drugmaker is fighting back. The Associated Press reports that this is the second time the AAP has said Synagis, which protects against respiratory syncytial virus, should be used for fewer newborns. The FDA approved the drug in 1998 for high-risk children, meaning babies born at or before 35 weeks. The AAP is recommending the drug be used for babies born before 29 weeks or if the child has chronic lung disease or certain other problems.

AAP committee member Cody Meissner tells the AP studies show Synagis can reduce the chance of being hospitalized but doesn't mean a shorter stay or reduce the risks of long-term complications or death.

AstraZeneca is fighting back with full-page ads, like this one provided by the Wall Street Journal's Pharmalot blog, which say the new guidelines would put 140,000 babies at risk for RSV and urges readers to visit

Pharmalot notes “Synagis sales have been plummeting. Sales in the first quarter of 2014 totaled $328 million, down 19 percent from $414 million in the same period last year.”

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