GSK clears another flu vaccine, but patients may not be buying

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GSK clears another flu vaccine, but patients may not be buying
GSK clears another flu vaccine, but patients may not be buying

GlaxoSmithKline landed another quadrivalent flu vaccine approval. The company announced August 6 that the FDA approved the drug maker's quadrivalent flu vaccine FluLaval for patients ages three and up. The intramuscular vaccine protects against virus subtypes A and B. The company noted in its statement that this approval means the 2013-2014 flu season will be the first one in which vaccines protecting against more than three strains of the virus will be on hand. The FDA approved the intramuscular Fluarix Quadrivalent in 2012. The company also has Fluarix Trivalent and FluLaval Trivalent versions. Flu seasons generally consist of A and B strains of the virus circulating. The Quad vaccines address two forms of the A strain and two of the B.

The announcement would appear to be timely: a recent CVS survey found that 59% of its survey pool considered  getting the flu shot to be a social responsibility, with more than 60% of those surveyed saying they felt susceptible to the flu when they traveled—which, considering the upcoming travel season, should make the vaccine an appealing defense. Further, the latest Centers for Disease Control data indicates that the last flu season, which officially ends September 28, 2013, was a harsh, one, kicking off four weeks earlier than usual. CDC says the elevated rate of infection lasted 15 weeks back-to-back, which is “slightly longer than average,” and that the US  only returned to below-baseline infection rates in March, the first time since December 2012.

Yet the 2012-2013 infection intensity does not appear to have made a major impression. The very same CVS population that equated vaccination with social responsibility, often seems to think getting vaccinated is someone else's duty: just 46% said they were more likely to get the flu shot this season. Two out of five told CVS that news about outbreaks is what prompts them to make an appointment, meaning these patients are pursuing a reactive approach to health.

Centers for Disease control gave GSK the go-ahead begin shipping the 2012 vaccine, Fluarix Quadrivalent, to healthcare providers. GlaxoSmithKline says the government agency ordered over 4 million doses which will be distributed to state and local healthcare providers. GSK forecasts selling up to 10 million doses Fluarix Quadrivalent and 22 to 24 million of influenza vaccines. Glaxo will manufacture and distributed a limited amount of the just-approved quadrivalent vaccine.

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