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GlobalData: Big tobacco may manufacture next flu shot

BY Michael Johnsen
LONDON – A new tobacco-based seasonal influenza vaccine being developed by Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma and currently in Phase III studies could potentially rival traditional chicken egg-based vaccines, as it aims to launch in the U.S. for the 2018-19 flu season, according to an analyst with research and consulting firm GlobalData.
 
The technology involved in the new vaccine, which can be produced in four weeks and six times faster than egg-based methods, involves implanting influenza genetic material into tobacco leaves, a manufacturing process originally developed by Medicago, a Canadian company acquired by Mitsubishi Tanabe in 2013.
 
“A number of vaccine giants including Sanofi, GlaxoSmithKline and MedImmune/AstraZeneca are also developing their vaccine portfolios," noted Achilleas Livieratos, analyst infectious diseases with GlobalData. "However, their current egg-based, quadrivalent, inactivated (split virus) seasonal influenza vaccines lack the manufacturing efficiency of tobacco plant-derived vaccines that can also generate virus-like particles.”
 
Livieratos added that Novavax has already advanced its insect cell-based VLP seasonal influenza vaccine candidate into Phase III of clinical development, ahead of Mitsubishi Tanabe. However, important differences exist between plant-based and conventional cell culture-based production methods, as the former boasts reduced infrastructure cost and half the production time compared with the latter.
 
“Mitsubishi Tanabe’s pipeline tobacco product is one of a number of VLP influenza vaccines set to take over from the traditional kind, as they represent an exciting emerging vaccine class that can generate effective and longer-lasting protection while also being amenable to a diverse array of production methods," Livieratos noted. “Mitsubishi Tanabe will need to demonstrate strong safety data and yearly production consistency of its tobacco-based vaccine. If the company’s product, or one like it, is approved, GlobalData expects a novel vaccine that boasts a rapid, plant-based manufacturing process to have a significant impact on the seasonal influenza vaccine landscape.”
 
 
 
 
 

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Prominent Hispanic media exec joins Target board

BY Michael Johnsen
MINNEAPOLIS – Target announced Wednesday its board of directors elected Monica Lozano as a new director, effective immediately. Lozano is the former CEO of ImpreMedia, one of the largest media companies serving Hispanic communities in the U.S.
 
“Monica is a highly influential, accomplished business leader who will bring more than 30 years of experience to Target’s board of directors," stated Brian Cornell, chairman and CEO, Target. "We will benefit greatly from her deep Hispanic insights and expertise as we drive Target’s strategic roadmap forward.” 
 
Lozano, 59, spent four years as CEO of ImpreMedia where she led the transformation of the business into a fully integrated multimedia content company. Previously, Lozano was publisher and CEO of La Opinión, the largest Hispanic newspaper in the country, where she began her career in 1985. Under her leadership, the company expanded into new markets and pursued product extensions.
 
Lozano has more than 15 years of public board experience and has committed much of her time to non-profit organizations, including serving in leadership roles with the National Council of La Raza. She also served as a member of President Obama’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness as well as the President's Economic Recovery Advisory Board.
 
 
 
 

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CVS Health commits $50 million to deliver nation’s first tobacco-free generation

BY Michael Johnsen
WOONSOCKET, R.I. – CVS Health on Thursday announced the launch of "Be The First," a five-year $50 million initiative to help deliver the nation's first tobacco-free generation. 
 
"We are at a critical moment in our nation's efforts to end the epidemic of tobacco use that continues to kill more people than any other preventable cause of death, and threatens the health and well-being of our next generation," stated Troyen Brennan, chief medical officer for CVS Health. "Ensuring our youth stay tobacco-free requires increased education and awareness of healthy behaviors. We're partnering with experts across the public health community who have established best practices to help prevent tobacco use," he said. "And, by establishing more public-private partnerships to implement these strategies more aggressively, we can help increase the number of people leading tobacco-free lives and move us one step closer to delivering the first tobacco-free generation."
 
To help achieve these goals, CVS Health and the CVS Health Foundation have enlisted the help of the nation's leading anti-tobacco and youth organizations to support programs that each address a unique part of the tobacco epidemic. 
 
Many of these partnerships will be launching in the coming weeks. 
 
These include new and expanded tobacco education programming with the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and Scholastic, as well as advocacy and tobacco-control initiatives with organizations such as the American Cancer Society and the National Urban League to accelerate declines in rates of smoking and other tobacco use among teens and young adults.
 
Be The First is directed at youth and young adults who use tobacco or who are at risk of becoming regular tobacco users, as well as the country's 3 million elementary school children who, without early tobacco education, may become future tobacco users. It is also focused on continuing to support community-based cessation programs for adult smokers, who expose children to tobacco use in the home and other public venues that permit smoking.
 
To help guide the initiative, CVS Health is convening a national advisory group made up of a diverse group of thought leaders who will advise on trends, initiatives and strategies that help advance the company's efforts to make the next generation tobacco-free. 
 
Members of the advisory group include: 
 
  • Aria Finger, CEO of DoSomething.org;
  • Rosie Henson, SVP Prevention and Early Detection at the American Cancer Society;
  • Barry Hummel, Jr. of the Quit Doc Foundation;
  • Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids;
  • Harold Paz, chief medical officer for Aetna;
  • Steve Schroeder, director of the Smoking Cessation Leadership Center at the University of California San Francisco; and
  • Aaron Zeiler, the 2015 Frank Karel Fellow in Public Interest Communications.
 
"Both the public health community and private sectors must work together if we are to advance a national strategy to end the tobacco epidemic, especially among our children," Myers noted. "We applaud CVS Health for continuing to demonstrate its leadership and commitment to helping people lead tobacco-free lives with this significant investment in the health and well-being of the next generation of Americans."
 
CVS Health has set actionable and measurable goals over the next five years for its Be The First initiative, including contributing to a 3% decline in the national youth smoking rate, a 10% decline in the number of new youth smokers and doubling the number of tobacco-free college and university campuses.
 
Additionally, Be The First will support acampaign to encourage tobacco-free social media. The #BeTheFirst social campaign will include a variety of shareable videos, graphics and digital tools that enable youth to express their commitment to "be the first" generation to lead tobacco-free lives and counter social media messaging and imagery that promotes youth tobacco use. Research shows that exposure to social media that depicts tobacco use predicts future smoking tendency, over and above the influence of TV and movie depictions of smoking. By helping to make the virtual world of social media tobacco-free, Be The First is helping to provide young people with the motivation to adopt and advocate for the same healthy behaviors in the physical world where it truly matters.
 
 
 

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