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New survey from CVS/pharmacy sheds light on flu prevention

BY Ryan Chavis

WOONSOCKET, R.I. — Three-in-five U.S. adults are not aware of the importance of the high-dose flu vaccine in flu prevention for adults ages 65 years and older, according to a new survey from CVS/pharmacy. The high-dose vaccine contains four times the antigens as the regular flu vaccine and is meant to create a stronger immune response for seniors who are more sucesptible to developing severe illnesses related to the flu.

Additionally, the survey revealed the following:

  • 67% of employed Americans would go to work even if they were feeling sick with flu-like symptoms;
  • 44% of individuals who receive a flu vaccine each year get it administered at a primary care physician's office; and
  • 59% report that they plan to get a flu shot this year.

"Getting an annual flu shot is the best way to help prevent the spread of influenza, especially for seniors who are more susceptible to developing complications from the flu," said Papatya Tankut, RPh, VP of pharmacy affairs at CVS Caremark. "The results of our consumer survey indicate the need for greater awareness among all Americans to understand the benefits of getting vaccinated and assisting older loved ones in making the decision, as well."

All CVS/pharmacy and MinuteClinic locations have begun to offer vaccinations. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone who is at least 6 months of age get a flu shot as soon as the vaccine becomes available.

 

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CDC committee recommends Pfizer pneumonia vaccine for seniors

BY David Salazar

New York — Pfizer’s Prevnar 13 vaccine for pneumonia has been recommended for use by patients 65 years old and up by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s immunization practices advisory committee. Prevnar 13 is a PCV13 immunization, meaning it protects against 13 variations of the pneumococcal disease.

“Immunization with Prevnar 13 can play an important role in helping to reduce the incidence and burden of vaccine-type pneumococcal community-acquired pneumonia and invasive pneumococcal disease among adults 65 years of age or older,” Luis Jodar, Global Medicines Development Group and Scientific Affairs’ VP vaccines said. “This additional ACIP meeting recognizes the importance of implementing an adult recommendation for Prevnar 13 in advance of the U.S. influenza season, the time of year when this population is most likely to be considering vaccination.”

The committee recommends that the vaccine be given to people ages 65 years and older who have never been vaccinated against pneumonia, and those who have previously received the other common pneumonia vaccine, PPSV23 (known as Pneumovax 23, which Merck distributes). Additionally, it advises that those who receive a Prevnar vaccine should also be given a PPSV23 vaccine.

The recommendations have the potential to alleviate the $5 billion that a 2011 study found pneumonia to cost, either directly or indirectly.

“As healthcare professionals in the United States begin to implement this new ACIP recommendation, we believe that Prevnar 13 can now help prevent vaccine-type pneumococcal pneumonia in older adults and has the potential to provide an important public health benefit.” Pfizer vaccines president Susan Silbermann said. "Pfizer remains committed to working with the healthcare and public health communities to raise awareness of the importance of adult immunization among consumers.”

The recommendations are now awaiting approval by the Department of Health and Human Services, and the head of the CDC.

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Mallinckrodt completes merger with Questcor

BY Ryan Chavis

DUBLIN — Mallinckrodt announced that it has completed the acquisiton of Questcor Pharmaceuticals in a transaction valued at $5.8 billion. Under the terms of the merger, Questcor shareholders will receive $30 in cash and 0.89 of a Mallinckrodt ordinary share for each Questcor share, the company stated.

"We are pleased to complete this transformative transaction and believe it will provide a strong, durable, well-diversified and sustainable platform, capable of generating significant future revenue and earnings growth for Mallinckrodt shareholders," said Mark Trudeau, president and CEO of Mallinckrodt. "HP Acthar Gel has demonstrated success in treating patients suffering from a variety of devastating and difficult-to-treat autoimmune and inflammatory illnesses. We are confident that Acthar will be a strong complement to Mallinckrodt's broadening portfolio of leading specialty pharmaceutical brands, and we look forward to leveraging our extensive manufacturing and scientific expertise, as well as our experience with advocacy and payer communities, to capitalize on the many opportunities it presents."

Commercial operations supporting HP Acthar gel will function as a separate business within the company's specialty pharmaceuticals segment. It will be referred to as the autoimmune and rare diseases business within Mallinckrodt.

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