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MMWR provides overview of 2013-14 influenza season, no change in flu shot composition

BY Michael Johnsen

ATLANTA — A report published Friday in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report characterized the 2013-2014 influenza season as the first season since 2009 that H1N1 generated fewer levels of outpatient illness and mortality as compared with seasons when influenza A (H3N2) is predominant. 

However, there were higher rates of hospitalization among adults ages 50 years to 64 years as compared to recent years, the report added. 

For next season, the Food and Drug Administration’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee has determined that the 2014–15 influenza vaccines used in the United States have the same antigenic composition as those used in 2013–14. The trivalent vaccines should contain an A/California/7/2009-like (2009 H1N1) virus, an A/Texas/50/2012-like (H3N2) virus and a B/Massachusetts/2/2012-like (B/Yamagata lineage) virus. The committee also recommended that quadrivalent vaccines contain a B/Brisbane/60/2008-like (B/Victoria lineage) virus.

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The Jean Coutu Group officially begins construction on new HQ in Varennes

BY Antoinette Alexander

LONGUEUIL, Quebec — The Jean Coutu Group has kicked off the construction of its future headquarters and distribution center in Varennes, Quebec. The official groundbreaking ceremony was held on Friday.

From left to right: Ron Keays, GKC Architects; Marc Dumas, Jean Coutu Group; Dario Montoni, Montoni Group; Frank Di Paolo, Montoni Group, François J. Coutu, Jean Coutu Group; Jean Coutu, Jean Coutu Group; Martin Damphousse, City of Varennes; Normand Messier, Jean Coutu Group; André Belzile, Jean Coutu Group; Hélène Bisson, Jean Coutu Group; and Guillaume Marchand, City of Varennes.

The new facility will total 883,000 sq. ft, which is 50% larger than the space currently occupied in Longueuil’s industrial park. The project represents a total investment of Canadian $190 million. The contractor Montoni was granted the construction contract.

“It is with a great deal of enthusiasm that we begin the construction of our new headquarters. The facilities in Varennes will be at the cutting edge of technology guarantying high standards of productivity while ensuring an enjoyable and safe work environment for our employees,” said François J. Coutu, president and CEO of the Jean Coutu Group.

The construction begins with the distribution center section, while the construction of the headquarters is scheduled to start in August.

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FDA approves new hemophilia treatment

BY David Salazar

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — A recently approved drug might make infusions for hemophiliacs fewer and further between.

The Food and Drug Administration approved Biogen Idec’s Eloctate, which clinical trials have shown works to treat bleeding episodes and to increase the time between prophylactic blood infusions for those with hemophilia A, a genetic illness that affects approximately 16,000 Americans.

With Eloctate, prophylactic infusions for hemophiliacs are only necessary every three to five days, a change from most, which are required every other day for those with severe hemophilia A.

Biogen Idec is hoping to make the drug available as soon as July, and the United States is the first country to approve Eloctate, though it’s currently under consideration for approval in Australia, Japan and Canada.

Eloctate is the second treatment for hemophilia approved by the FDA this year, following the March approval of Alprolix, which treats hemophilia B and reduces infusion frequency for those patients to once a week.

 

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