PHARMACY

FDA approves GSK four-strain flu vaccine

BY Alaric DeArment

LONDON — The Food and Drug Administration has approved a new four-strain flu vaccine made by GlaxoSmithKline, the drug maker said.

GSK announced the approval of its Fluarix Quadrivalent (influenza virus vaccine) for children and adults against seasonal influenza subtypes A and B. The company said the vaccine was the first for intramuscular injection that protects against four strains of the virus.

"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," GSK VP and head of the company’s North America vaccines clinical development and medical affairs division Leonard Friedland said. "Fluarix Quadrivalent will help protect individuals against both B strains and from a public health standpoint can help decrease the burden of disease."


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PHARMACY

PQA appoints new chairman, executives

BY Alaric DeArment

SPRINGFIELD, Va. — The head of the American Pharmacists Association has been tapped as the chairman of the Pharmacy Quality Alliance, the PQA said Tuesday.

The PQA announced the appointment of APhA EVP and CEO Thomas Menighan, who will succeed Judith Cahill, who has served on the organization’s board since its 2006 inception, including a recently completed two-year stint as chairwoman.

Other new members of the PQA board include American Society of Health System Pharmacists CEO Paul Abramowitz; Food and Drug Administration Safe Use Initiative acting director Dale Slavin; and Prime Therapeutics SVP cost and care Peter Wickersham.


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PHARMACY

Blacks, Hispanics more likely to perceive generics as inferior

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK — Negative perceptions of generic drugs are more likely among blacks and Hispanics, according to a new study.

The study, published in the journal Ethnicity & Disease, found that negative perceptions of generic drugs were more widespread among ethnic minorities than among whites.

The researchers found no significant differences by race or ethnicity in the use of generic drug discount programs, and about 75% of participants agreed that generics are equal in quality or just as safe or effective as branded drugs, but negative perceptions about the potential for side effects and about inferiority of generics were more pronounced among minority group members than among whites. Blacks and Hispanics were 10 times more likely than whites to agree that generic drugs had more side effects than branded drugs and four times more likely than whites to agree that generics were inferior to branded drugs, though the perceptions did not prevent minorities from using generics.

The researchers conducted a survey of Houston residents with incomes less than $30,000 per year with a chronic condition requiring a prescription drug or a family member with such a condition; 67% of respondents were African-American; and 77% were couple.

"A lot of people can’t afford their medicine; they end up in the [emergency room] for something preventable," Kellogg Health Scholars researcher and lead study author Anthony Omojasola said. "We wanted to see if people were aware of generic drug discount programs and, if they were aware, why they would or would not participate."


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