GlaxoSmithKline, sanofi-aventis and Novartis have begun U.S. distribution of flu vaccinations for the 2010-2011 flu season.

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GSK, Sanofi, Novartis start shipping flu vaccines

July 30th, 2010

NEW YORK – GlaxoSmithKline, sanofi-aventis and Novartis have begun U.S. distribution of flu vaccinations for the 2010-2011 flu season.

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) said Friday that it's starting shipment of FluLaval, its flu vaccine for people age 18 and older, and in the next few weeks expects to begin distribution of Fluarix, which is approved for use in adults and children age 3 and older. Overall, GSK expects to supply more than 30 million doses of the two vaccines combined this flu season.

The company noted that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is recommending that individuals age 6 months and older should get a flu immunization and that this year's vaccine will offer protection against the 2009 H1N1 pandemic virus and two other seasonal flu viruses.

Meanwhile, Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccines division of sanofi-aventis, said Friday that U.S. shipment of its Fluzone seasonal flu vaccine is now under way in the U.S. The company reported that the shipment represents the first of more than 70 million doses of seasonal flu vaccine that it plans to deliver to U.S. health care providers this flu season.

Fluzone is intended for use in people age 6 months and older and is available as a no-preservative vaccine in single-dose prefilled syringes or vials for both children and adults, according to Sanofi. Fluzone also comes in multidose vials, which contain preservative. And available for the first time is Fluzone High-Dose, which is for adults 65 and older and only comes in single-dose, no-preservative, prefilled syringes. Both vaccinations are inactivated flu virus vaccines indicated for active immunization against influenza disease caused by influenza virus subtypes A and type B contained in the vaccine, the company said.

On Thursday, Novartis' vaccines unit said it has begun distributing flu vaccine to U.S. customers. The company reported that it plans to supply the U.S. market with about 40 million doses of Fluvirin vaccine, approved for patients 4 years of age and older. Fluvirin will be available to health care professionals in prefilled syringes and multi-dose vials.

An estimated 36,000 people in the United States die each year from the flu and its complications and another 200,000 are hospitalized, according to CDC figures cited by Novartis.