GlaxoSmithKline announced today that it has received Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval to start shipping 2013-2014 FLUARIX® QUADRIVALENT (influenza virus vaccine) to CDC distribution centers and U.S. healthcare providers. This is the first season that vaccines protecting against more than three strains of influenza will be commercially available.
Fluarix Quadrivalent was the first intramuscular quadrivalent influenza vaccine approved by the FDA [on Dec. 14, 2012] for the immunization of children (three years and older) and adults to help prevent disease caused by seasonal influenza virus subtypes A and B contained in the vaccine. Before vaccine manufacturers can begin shipping influenza vaccines each season, the FDA first must certify that the supplies to be provided to healthcare providers meet the agency’s quality and safety standards.
Scientists classify the influenza strains that cause seasonal influenza as A or B strains. Most current influenza vaccines provide trivalent (three-strain) influenza protection. Trivalent influenza vaccines protect against the two A virus strains most common in humans and the B strain expected to be predominant in a given year.
“Trivalent (three-strain) influenza vaccines offer important protection against influenza. But since the late 1980s, scientists noted that two B virus lineage strains circulate to varying degrees each year, and it’s difficult to predict which one will cause the most illness in a particular influenza season,” says Dr. Leonard Friedland, vice president of scientific affairs and public policy for GSK Vaccines, North America. “Fluarix Quadrivalent addresses this by protecting against both B strains.”
With today’s FDA lot release, GSK’s Fluarix Quadrivalent influenza vaccine soon will be supplied to U.S. healthcare providers who placed orders for the new vaccine after it was approved late last year. The CDC placed the largest order for Fluarix Quadrivalent – for more than 4 million doses – and will allocate those doses to U.S. state and local healthcare providers. The CDC annually purchases large quantities of influenza vaccines from multiple influenza manufacturers.
For this influenza season, GSK will supplement the supply of Fluarix Quadrivalent with its trivalent seasonal influenza vaccines. In the U.S., GSK estimates it will provide up to 10 million doses of quadrivalent influenza vaccines, and 22 to 24 million doses of influenza vaccines overall. GSK believes the healthcare community will steadily transition in coming years to quadrivalent influenza vaccines, and the company is in the process of increasing its capability to provide substantially more quadrivalent influenza vaccine doses for coming influenza seasons.