Plummeting temperatures and icy sidewalks herald the arrival of flu season. More than just a runny nose and bothersome congestion, the flu assails its victims with fever, nausea, dizziness and restricted breathing. In some cases, influenza patients must be hospitalized, and statistics reveal that the very young and the elderly are the most vulnerable to serious – even deadly- complications.
According to Canada’s Community and Hospital Infection Control Association, last year’s flu season affected more 31,000 people across the country. Last winter, 1 out of every 500 Americans over the age of 65 was hospitalized as a result of influenza. Current students and grads of pharmaceutical courses understand that infection prevention is a key sector in the drug industry. This week we profile how Big Pharma’s clinical research on new vaccine types has paid off, resulting in innovations like multi-strain protection, a breathable mist, and alternate options for the vaccine-allergic.
Sanofi: Multi-strain protection
A leader is influenza vaccine products, Sanofi’s Fluzone are administered to more the 50 million Americans each year. Recently, the pharma giant announced the release of Fluzone Quadrivalent, an advanced formulation that protects users from 4 strains of flu. In particular, the vaccine targets two different B strains of influenza, including one most often associated with mortality in children. The new vaccine is licensed for use in children 6 months of age and over, adolescents and adults.
AstraZeneca: Breathable mist
On its way to the United States for release, just in time for flu season, FluMist by AstraZeneca is the first breathable vaccine. Like Fluzone Quadrivalent, it offers protection against 4 different strains of influenza and is administered as a gentle mist sprayed into the nose. The vaccine is appropriate for use in eligible children, adolescents and adults, age 2 to 49. FluMist targets the nose, where the virus typically gains access to the body, and where victims first notice early symptoms like nasal congestion.
Protein Sciences Corporation: Anti-allergic option
Up until now, typical influenza vaccines were made using chicken eggs – a scary proposition for people with egg allergies. Flublok, by protein Sciences Corp, is the only licensed flu vaccine that does not use eggs, antibiotics or live influenza virus in any part of the manufacturing process. Appropriate for users between the ages of 18 and 49, Flublok and the other new alternative vaccines represent a leap forward in research and development. Just 10 years ago, there were only two options available to Americans. Contamination at a manufacturing plant compromised pharmaceutical quality control and dramatically limited availability of vaccine across the nation. Now, there are several options – suited to a range of ages – on offer throughout North America.
Have you been vaccinated yet this season?