GlaxoSmithKline plc announced this week that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved FLUARIX® QUADRIVALENT (Influenza Virus Vaccine) for the immunisation of children (three years and older) and adults to help prevent disease caused by seasonal influenza (flu) virus subtypes A and type B contained in the vaccine. Fluarix Quadrivalent is the first intramuscular vaccine to cover against four influenza strains.
Scientists classify the influenza strains that cause seasonal flu as A or B strains. Currently administered trivalent (three-strain) flu vaccines help protect against the two A virus strains most common in humans and the B strain expected to be predominant in a given year. But since the year 2000, two B virus strains (Victoria and Yamagata) have co-circulated to varying degrees each season. Various degrees of mismatch have occurred between the B strain included in trivalent vaccines and the B strain that actually circulated, causing an increased risk of influenza-related morbidity across all age groups – children, adults and the elderly. Fluarix Quadrivalent helps protect against the two A strains and adds coverage against a second B strain.
“Trivalent influenza vaccines have helped protect millions of people against flu, but in six of the last 11 flu seasons, the predominant circulating influenza B strain was not the strain that public health authorities selected,” said Dr. Leonard Friedland, V.P. and Head, GSK North America Vaccines Clinical Development and Medical Affairs. “Fluarix Quadrivalent will help protect individuals against both B strains and from a public-health standpoint, can help decrease the burden of disease.”
GSK will make Fluarix Quadrivalent available in time for the 2013-14 flu season and and also plans to fulfill orders for its trivalent vaccines. Healthcare providers traditionally order flu vaccines about a year in advance of each flu season. Fluarix Quadrivalent is not currently approved or licensed in any country outside of the U.S. The full U.S. Prescribing Information will be available here.
About Seasonal Influenza
Seasonal influenza may cause three to five million cases of severe illness and up to 500,000 deaths per year worldwide. Vaccination against influenza is considered one of the most effective ways of preventing mortality, complications, and hospitalisations. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that children six months of age and older and adults receive a flu shot annually. More information about seasonal influenza can be found here and here.
Important Safety Information for Fluarix Quadrivalent
Fluarix Quadrivalent is a vaccine indicated for active immunization for the prevention of disease caused by influenza A subtype viruses and type B viruses contained in the vaccine. Fluarix Quadrivalent is approved for use in persons 3 years of age and older.
- Do not administer Fluarix Quadrivalent to anyone with known severeallergic reactions (anaphylaxis) to any component of the vaccine,including egg protein, or a life-threatening reaction to previousadministration of any influenza vaccine.
- If Guillain-Barre syndrome has occurred within 6 weeks of receipt ofprior influenza vaccine, the decision to give Fluarix Quadrivalentshould be based on careful consideration of the potential benefits andrisks.
- The tip caps of the prefilled syringes may contain natural rubber latexwhich may cause allergic reactions in latex sensitive individuals.
- If Fluarix Quadrivalent is administered to immunosuppressed persons,including individuals receiving immunosuppressive therapy, the immuneresponse may be lower than in immunocompetent persons.
- Syncope (fainting) can occur in association with administration ofinjectable vaccines. Procedures should be in place to avoid fallinginjury and to restore cerebral perfusion following syncope.
- In clinical trials with Fluarix Quadrivalent, the most common adversereactions in adults were pain at the injection site, muscle aches,headaches and fatigue. In children 3 years to less than 18 years ofage, the most common adverse reactions were pain at the injection site,redness and swelling. In children 3 years to less than 6 years of age,the most common adverse reactions were drowsiness, irritability, andloss of appetite. In children 6 to less than 18 years of age, the mostcommon systemic adverse reactions were fatigue, muscle aches, headache,arthralgia and gastrointestinal symptoms. (See Adverse Reactionssection of the Prescribing Information for Fluarix Quadrivalent forother potential adverse reactions and events).
- Vaccination with Fluarix Quadrivalent may not result in protection inall vaccine recipients.
Cautionary statement regarding forward-looking statements
Under the safe harbor provisions of the U.S. Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, GSK cautions investors that any forward-looking statements or projections made by GSK, including those made in this announcement, are subject to risks and uncertainties that may cause actual results to differ materially from those projected. Factors that may affect GSK’ s operations are described under ‘Risk factors’ in the ‘Financial review & risk’ section in the company’s Annual Report 2011 included as exhibit 15.2 to the company’s Annual Report on Form 20-F for 2011.