Influenza :: Novartis starts US shipment of Fluvirin allowing for early influenza vaccination of millions of Americans

Novartis announced today the availability in the US of the first shipments of Fluvirin influenza virus vaccine for the 2007/08 season.

An estimated 40 million doses of Fluvirin are planned to be shipped to the US for the upcoming season, of which nearly seven million have already been made available to support the rollout of annual influenza immunization programs nationwide.

More than 200 million people in the US are considered to be in groups recommended to get an influenza vaccination annually. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the best defense for people who want to reduce the risk of becoming ill with influenza, or of transmitting the disease to others, is to receive an annual vaccination. Early and sustained availability of influenza vaccine also provides a greater window of opportunity for more people to get vaccinations.

“Novartis Vaccines is committed to supporting public health efforts by continuing to provide a reliable supply of influenza vaccine as early as possible,” said Joerg Reinhardt, CEO of Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics. “By delivering influenza vaccine to healthcare providers early, we are contributing to ensure early immunization programs may be initiated nationwide. We also encourage people to follow the CDC’s recommendation to get vaccinated against influenza.”

As previously announced, Novartis Vaccines plans to provide approximately 40 million doses of its Fluvirin vaccine to the US this year. At least 20 million of these doses are planned for delivery by the end of September, with all doses expected to be delivered by the end of October. The first lots of Fluvirin vaccine were released on August 8, 2007 by the US Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research (CBER), making it the first trivalent inactivated influenza vaccine (TIV) available for the 2007/08 season.

“For the second year in a row, Novartis has delivered a substantial amount of influenza vaccine to the US market in early August to facilitate early vaccinations, particularly of high-risk population,” said Rajiv De Silva, President of Novartis Vaccines in the US.

Influenza prevention is important since an estimated 36,000 deaths in the US every year are blamed on influenza, which is similar to the 42,000 people in the US estimated to die from breast cancer every year and half the estimated 70,000 people who die annually of diabetes and its complications. Some estimates have shown that up to 20% of the US population each year becomes infected with the influenza virus, causing more than 200,000 people to be hospitalized.

Several influenza vaccines are available in the US. Each vaccine has its own specific indications, contraindications and side effects. Before vaccination, people should consult their healthcare provider to determine if they have any conditions precluding them from receiving a vaccine.

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