Chiron Delivers First Million Doses of Fluvirin Influenza Vaccine to U.S. Distributors for Upcoming Influenza Season


EMERYVILLE, Calif. -- Chiron Corporation today announced that it has delivered the first one million doses of its Fluvirin influenza vaccine to U.S. distributors in preparation

for the upcoming influenza season. The company expects to deliver a total of

52 million doses of Fluvirin to the U.S. market this season through regular

shipments over the next few months, including 2 million doses later in the

season for a national stockpile held by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control

and Prevention (CDC). This record level of supply represents an increase of

more than one third compared with Fluvirin deliveries during the last

influenza season.


"Chiron is committed to protecting millions of people against influenza by

increasing the availability of Fluvirin, and vaccine delivery early in the

season is an important step in fulfilling this pledge," said Howard Pien,

president and chief executive officer of Chiron.  "Last influenza season hit

early and hit hard.  As a result, people increasingly recognized the value of

vaccination and sought it at unprecedented rates, leading to a public health

milestone of approximately 83 million Americans immunized against influenza.

To meet the growing demand for vaccine, our manufacturing teams have worked

hard to increase production to record levels and to deliver the vaccine to

market as quickly as possible, allowing people to act early to protect

themselves and their families this coming influenza season."


As part of the annual preparation for the influenza season, the U.S. Food

and Drug Administration's Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research (CBER)

tests samples from each batch of influenza vaccine.  Upon passing this

regulatory testing step, CBER officially releases the vaccine.  CBER has begun

this process and released the first million doses of Fluvirin.  In the coming

days, Chiron will complete its internal release procedures, allowing

distributors to begin shipping the vaccines to customers.


According to the CDC, about 10 to 20 percent of the U.S. population

contracts influenza each year.  Vaccination not only decreases the risk of

illness for the vaccine recipient but also helps prevent the spread of the

influenza virus and limits its role in the potential development of

life-threatening complications.  The Advisory Committee on Immunization

Practices (ACIP) recommends the initiation of influenza vaccination in

September for those at high risk for serious complications.


CDC statistics show that, in an average year in the United States,

influenza causes 114,000 hospitalizations and kills 36,000 people, primarily

in the over-65 population.  Together, influenza and pneumonia are the

seventh-leading cause of death in the country, killing more people than any

other infectious disease.  According to the National Foundation for Infectious

Diseases (NFID), the annual direct medical costs of influenza are estimated at

as much as $4.6 billion.  Total direct and indirect costs, including lost work

days, of a severe flu epidemic are at least $12 billion.


Influenza, a contagious disease caused by the influenza virus, affects the

respiratory tract, often resulting in symptoms in the nose, throat and lungs,

as well as fever, headache, tiredness and body aches.  It can also lead to

complications such as pneumonia, bronchitis, or sinus and ear infections or

exacerbate chronic conditions.


Influenza vaccination provides protection from influenza within about two

weeks of administration and may last for as long as a year.  The vaccine

protects 70 to 90 percent of vaccinated people from contracting influenza, and

vaccinated people who do contract influenza generally develop milder cases

than unvaccinated people.  Influenza vaccines, the majority of which are made

from inactivated influenza strains, are updated each year to address

changes in the viruses.  People who are allergic to eggs, who have had a

severe reaction to an influenza shot in the past, or who have previously

developed Guillain-Barre syndrome in the six weeks after receiving an

influenza vaccination should consult their doctors before receiving influenza



The most common side effect of vaccination with Fluvirin is soreness at

the injection site.  Less common side effects include fever, malaise, myalgia

and allergic reactions.  Fluvirin should not be administered to anyone with a

history of hypersensitivity to any component of the vaccine, including eggs,

egg products or thimerosal.  As is the case with most drugs and vaccines,

there is a chance that a serious allergic reaction, serious illness or even

death could occur as a result of vaccination with Fluvirin.  Generally,

persons should not be vaccinated during an acute febrile illness.  Persons

should consult with their healthcare providers if they are pregnant and/or are

taking other medications.  Fluvirin may not protect 100 percent of individuals

who are susceptible to influenza.  Before administering Fluvirin, please see

full prescribing information.


Source: Chiron Corporation


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