FluMist may be used in $2.5 billion federal program
GAITHERSBURG, Md. MedImmune’s nasal spray flu vaccine may be used in the $2.5 billion federal Vaccines for Children Program, the company said.
The Gaithersburg, Md.-based company has already begun shipping 4.5 million doses of refrigerated FluMist for the 2007-08 influenza season to customers in the United States and to U.S. military bases overseas.
In late September, the Food and Drug Administration approved expanding FluMist’s use to include children from 2 to 4 years old. The vaccine was previously approved for healthy people 5 to 49.
A Centers for Disease Control independent committee of 15 immunologists will decide whether to recommend FluMist for young children in the Vaccines for Children Program. That panel is scheduled to meet Oct. 28.
“The more we can do to vaccinate more children against this disease is very, very important,” said MedImmune spokeswoman Karen Lancaster.
Officials say 45 percent of children in the United States receive vaccines through the children’s program and the committee is the only body that determines what vaccines are included. It provides vaccines free to children without insurance and others.
The FDA approval for expanded use with younger children follows its OK in January of a refrigerated, rather than frozen, version of FluMist. While injected flu vaccines use a killed virus, FluMist uses a weakened live virus.
“It is a wonderful step in the evolution of FluMist that no longer do we have to have the frozen storage for the provider,” Lancaster said. “It opened some doors that may have been closed. With the approval of the refrigerated FluMist and expansion [to younger children], we have turned a corner with FluMist. We think there is an exciting future.”
McKesson announces plans to acquire Oncology Therapeutics for $575 million
SAN FRANCISCO McKesson Corp. announced plans Thursday to buy fellow cancer drug distributor Oncology Therapeutics network for $575 million, according to the Associated Press.
Based on IMS health data, McKesson expects annual sales of oncology drugs to double in the next four years to $60 billion. Oncology Therapeutics also distributes drugs for rheumatoid arthritis and hepatitis C, seeing about $3 billion in annual sales.
The acquisition would be McKesson’s second major purchase this year, the first being a $1.1 billion takeover of Per-Se Technologies, a health care administrator. Both purchases indicate an upswing for the company, which in January 2005 had to set aside more than $1 billion to resolve shareholder lawsuits revolving around a $12 billion acquisition of health-services software maker HBO & Co., which revealed only after the sale that it had been highly overvalued.
To help boost its stock price, the Associated Press reported, McKesson unveiled plans to spend an additional $1 billion in buying back its own shares. The company has already burned through $684 million of the $1 billion authorized in an earlier stock repurchase program announced in May.
Pfizer hires two scientists to boost research operations
NEW YORK Pfizer has hired two senior scientists and promoted a third to help rejuvenate its lackluster research operations.
Briggs Morrison, M.D., a senior vice president of research at Merck, Pfizer’s rival, will become chief of clinical development. Corey S. Goodman, M.D., who recently stepped down as chief executive of Renovis, a biotech company, will become the head of a new biotech center based in San Francisco. Martin Mackay, M.D., the former deputy head of research at Pfizer will become chief of global research and development.
The company is trying to establish a new drug pipeline after having a disappointing couple of years in its research and development departments, which saw very few products, hit the market, while Merck saw a boom in product development.