Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News
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Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News
Pharmaguy curates and provides insights into selected drug industry news and issues.
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Your Next Flu Vaccination May Not Be as Effective as You Think

Your Next Flu Vaccination May Not Be as Effective as You Think | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

Flu vaccination efforts are in full swing.

 

But you may have been hearing puzzling things about flu shots over the past couple of years.

 

While the flu is a common illness, that hardly means the science around it is static. Some recent studies have suggested that getting a yearly shot may actually diminish the benefit of successive vaccinations. Others have raised the possibility that statins — the commonly used cholesterol-lowering drugs — may actually interfere with your immune system’s response to influenza vaccine.

 

Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently recommended against the use of the nasal mist vaccine that many kids prefer over injected vaccine (read “CDC Says AZ's FluMist is Ineffective Compared to Flu Shots; i.e., 3% v. 63%!”; http://sco.lt/5E9L2P ).

 

So are the shots worth the bother?

 

P.S. In the not-to-distant past, the CDC and other public health institutes estimated that flu shots cut one’s risk of contracting flu by between 70 percent and 90 percent.

 

But that new way of assessing vaccine effectiveness we talked about earlier has shed more light on that question, and the effectiveness estimate was seen to be too high.

 

The more common claim is that the vaccine lowers one’s risk by an average of about 50 percent to 60 percent — though some years the protection is far less, depending on how well matched the viral targets in the vaccine are to the viruses making people sick.

Pharma Guy's insight:

I see that my supermarket is offering 20% discount off my grocery bill if I get the flu shot at their drug store. Hmmm...

 

Also read:

  • “Flu Shot Doesn't Work as Well as #pharma Clinical Data Suggests”; http://sco.lt/4pRtTd
  • "Everything You Wanted to Know About Vaccine Marketing, PR, Earned Media, Lobbying, and 'Anti-Vaxxers'"; http://bit.ly/29H0UOL
  • “Pharma Needs to Step Up & Help Develop a Universal Flu Vaccine"; http://bit.ly/PMBalbum012913
  • “Adults Only Really Catch the Flu About Twice a Decade, Study Suggests: Another Good Reason Not to Get Flu Vaccine”; http://sco.lt/7yRU9J
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CDC Says AZ's FluMist is Ineffective Compared to Flu Shots; i.e., 3% v. 63%!

CDC Says AZ's FluMist is Ineffective Compared to Flu Shots; i.e., 3% v. 63%! | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

Dealing a blow to AstraZeneca in its largest FluMist Quadrivalent market, a CDC committee has recommended against any use of the nasal vaccine for the upcoming season. It’s a setback that AZ says it’s still working “to better understand” as the pharma navigates a changing flu vaccine landscape.

 The U.S. accounted for more than two-thirds of FluMist Quadrivalent's revenue last year, with $206 million of its $290 million in global sales. 

In issuing its recommendation, the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices weighed "data showing poor or relatively lower effectiveness" from three previous flu seasons. In late May, the body received data showing that FluMist was just 3% effective in children aged 2 to 17 during the 2015-2016 flu season, compared with an estimated 63% effectiveness for flu shots. ACIP said "no protective benefit could be measured" from the nasal vaccine.

AstraZeneca said some of the CDC data doesn't jibe with its own or with findings from studies by independent health authorities in the U.K. and Finland. The company said its vaccine was 46% to 58% effective overall last season.

What's odd, as Reuters reports, is that the CDC back in 2014 recommended FluMist over injectable competitors due to its superior efficacy at the time. Children are often given the nasal vaccine to avoid injections.

AstraZeneca said it’s communicating with the agency to learn more.

 

[Also read "Flu Shot Doesn't Work as Well as #pharma Clinical Data Suggest"']

Pharma Guy's insight:

Keep in mind that CDC's definition of "effective" - whether for mist or shot - is not very impressive. For more on that, read Does the Flu Vaccine Work? What 62% "Effective" Really Means

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Flu Shot Doesn't Work as Well as #pharma Clinical Data Suggests

Flu Shot Doesn't Work as Well as #pharma Clinical Data Suggests | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

It's the time of year when experts crunch the numbers to see how well the flu shot worked. The result? Better than last year, but still not good enough.

 

"Overall, just shy of 45 to 50 per cent," said Dr. Danuta Skowronski of the BC Centre for Disease Control, who presented the data to the Global Influenza Vaccine Effectiveness meeting at the World Health Organization last week.

 

"That's lower than we would like to see, but it's an improvement over the previous year, because it couldn't be worse, frankly"

 

Experts used to believe the annual flu shot protection was much higher, around 70 to 90 per cent. But not anymore. Those early estimates were based on industry-funded clinical trials that were extrapolated to apply across all ages and flu seasons.

 

"It was a blanket assumption that is simply not true," Skowronski said.

 

That assumption changed dramatically, after Skowronski and colleagues developed a protocol that revealed the true picture of vaccine efficacy. It's called the test negative design (TND) first piloted in Canada in 2004.

 

"The test negative design has opened our eyes to all kinds of variables that we were blind to for years. We were flying blind," said Skowronski.

 

The good news is the data is more reliable. But the bad news is that experts now realize the flu vaccine protects only about half of the time.

 

"Our public health goal is to minimize the serious health problems association with the flu," said Skowronski. "There's no use promoting a vaccine that isn't working well. The only way you can do better is to recognize the problem in the first place."

 

This year's data also shows that only about a third of Canadians got the flu shot, about five per cent less than last year.

 

"That's not a surprise coming out of a year where effectiveness was so low. That had to have an impact," said Skowronski.

Pharma Guy's insight:

The drug industry over promises the effectiveness of vaccines based on small clinical trials, but in the real world effectiveness, as in this case, is much lower than pharma marketers want us to believe. You can't fault the "anti-vaxxers" when the data suggests that marketers share some of the blame why the public may be skeptical. For more on that, read "Everything You Wanted to Know About Vaccine Marketing, PR, Earned Media, Lobbying, and 'Anti-Vaxxers'"; http://bit.ly/29H0UOL Also read “CDC Says AZ's FluMist is Ineffective Compared to Flu Shots; i.e., 3% v. 63%!”; http://sco.lt/5E9L2P

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