Tuesday, December 13, 2005

"FluMist Excels In Key Trial, Maker Says"

Read the full article by Michael Rosenwald and Justin Gillis in The Washington Post of December 12, 2005.

A new version of its nasal-spray influenza vaccine had proved superior for young children to the standard flu shot in a large global test, according to its maker, MedImmune Inc. In a test of 8,492 children in 16 countries, the standard injected vaccine was compared with a new version of a vaccine (FluMist), which is delivered as two puffs of mist in the nose. Only 3.9 percent of children receiving FluMist got the flu, versus 8.6 percent of those who received standard flu shots, a 55 percent drop. This is the third, and by far the largest, study to show superiority for FluMist.

"Several hurdles remain for FluMist, most notably whether the Food and Drug Administration will even approve the product for children under 5 and, if so, whether the agency will let the company claim superiority over flu shots. The study confirmed previous findings that FluMist poses a slight risk of precipitating wheezing episodes among some children........

"While FluMist is intended mainly for use against seasonal flu, a version could be developed rapidly for a more dangerous strain. Because it is a live vaccine that induces immunity by reproducing in the body, it would most likely be effective with one low dose, whereas studies suggest an injected vaccine would require two large doses a month apart.

"In principle, the nasal vaccine could offer crucial advantages in a pandemic, allowing authorities to make many more doses and protect many more people in a given period."

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