"Seqirus Media Monitoring" 14th Feb 2018

Seqirus mentions
CSL profits get a boost from surging demand for flu vaccines
CSL says sales of its Seqirus seasonal flu vaccines have jumped as people fight tougher strains of the flu virus. Sales of CSL's new quadrivalent vaccines, which help protect against four strains of flu, were up 43 per cent, with output from the Holly Springs, North Carolina facility that CSL acquired from Novartis three years ago, up fourfold. Paul Perreault said the company was working on delivering higher-dose flu vaccines in Australia for high-risk patients.
CDC Still Recommends Sanofi, GlaxoSmithKline Vaccines As Flu-Related Deaths Rise
The lethal H3N2 flu strain and comorbid diseases claimed at least 4,000 lives in the U.S. last week, according to the CDC. Only Seqirus and Sanofi are known to produce vaccines that effectively inhibit H3N2, but the CDC also recommended products from GlaxoSmithKline. AstraZeneca's FluMist was not prescribed this year. Considering the demand for vaccines this season, the pharmaceutical companies might have incentive to invest in research and development for more potent, comprehensive products.
Big Pharma is thriving off the flu: Business is booming as thousands Americans die each week from this year's historic pandemic
As the flu pandemic is killing and sickening scores of Americans, Big Pharma companies' profits are soaring. There are five companies that make flu shots recommended by the CDC this year: Seqirus, GlaxoSmithKline, Sanofi Pasteur and Protein Sciences. For a private sector customer, a flu shot costs between $15.64 and $21.12 per dose, according to the CDC. The largest out of those five companies, Sanofi Pasteur and GlaxoSmithKline made some very serious bucks on their vaccines in 2017, especially in the fourth financial quarter of the year, as the flu was really ramping up in the US.
New Anti-Flu Drugs To Combat Viral Mutations Using Alternative Mechanisms
Nearly all anti-flu drugs work the same way. Tamiflu, Relenza, Rapivab, and Inavir inhibit the function of neuraminidase, an enzyme that allows germs to spread the infection from one cell to another. Baloxavir, an experimental drug by Shionogi, could be available for release in Japan this March. However, it won't reach U.S. shores until 2019. Unlike Tamiflu, the medication works by blocking the activity of the protein the influenza virus needs to create copies of itself. All a patient needs is a single dose.
Pandemic Influenza News
Can we create a pandemic-free world?
Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization, spoke in Dubai about the need to prepare against pandemics. He explained that "we must prioritize the research and development of new vaccines and medicines. WHO’s Research and Development Blueprint identifies the pathogens that are the most likely to spark an epidemic, and provides a guide for where investments are most urgently needed. Although this task is difficult, because we have millions of viruses that could potentially spark pandemics."
News Scan for Feb 12, 2018
China has reported another H7N9 avian flu infection, marking only the third case of the sixth wave of illness activity that began in October, according to a report from Hong Kong's Centre for Health Protection. SK Chemicals announced that it has signed an agreement worth as much as $155 million to license its cell-culture technology to Sanofi Pasteur for developing a universal flu vaccine, Yonhap News Agency reported
Industry News
US teacher dies after opting out of 'costly' flu medicine
A US school teacher has died from flu complications after deciding to forgo anti-viral medication because it "costs too much", her husband told US media. As her symptoms worsened, her husband bought the Tamiflu drug for $116 (£84) a day before she went to hospital. Tamiflu's manufacturers say it can prevent flu, though there is some debate over its effectiveness.
CureVac snags new Gates Foundation backing for universal flu, malaria mRNA vaccine work
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is offering two new grants to CureVac to develop vaccines against influenza and malaria. If these new Gates Foundation-funded CureVac vaccines make it to the market, they will be made available at an affordable price in low-income countries. CureVac is also developing a seasonal flu vaccine dubbed CV7302, the flu shot is slated to enter human testing this year. But the Gates grant will be directed toward a different influenza project—a universal flu vaccine, a field that’s quickly getting crowded as researchers seek better ways to effectively tackle the fast-mutating virus.
SK Chemicals Inks $150 Million License Deal with Sanofi Pasteur
SK Chemicals has signed an agreement to transfer and license its high efficiency influenza vaccine production technology to Sanofi Pasteur for development of a universal influenza vaccine. SK Chemicals’ cell culture vaccine production technology uses animal cells that enable a quick and efficient production process.
Could this experimental drug stop the flu in 24 hours?
Shionogi says it has an experimental pill that can kill the flu virus within a single day, according to news reports. In a clinical trial, a single dose of the drug made by the pharmaceutical company eliminated the virus from people's bodies in a median time of 24 hours. The experimental drug worked three times faster than another antiviral drug, Tamiflu, the company said
High cost of Tamiflu stretching pocketbooks of many flu-stricken Louisville-area families
In the U.S., the high cost of Tamiflu is prohibitive for some patients. As the flu bounces from kids to parents in the same home, it's causing families to shell out hundreds of dollars, and reluctance to do so has already cost one Texas woman her life.
Compulsory vaccinations: the 2018 schedule has been published
In France, the new schedule for compulsory and recommended vaccinations has been published for 2018. There are now 11 compulsory vaccinations for newborns. Three new flu vaccines have been authorised in France as well: Influvac Tetra, Vaxigrip Tetra and Fluarix Tetra.
Tamiflu may have odd side effects, particularly in children, experts say
For the last decade, reports have surfaced that Tamiflu may have “neuropsychiatric side effects” in some patients, particularly children and young adults. Genentech, the company that sells Tamiflu, declined to comment on specific cases in an email. But Bob Purcell, the director of corporate relations for the company, said that the most common side effects associated with the drug are nausea, vomiting, headache and pain. The email also said that "neuropsychiatric events" have been reported while using Tamiflu for patients with influenza, especially children and teens, but they also have been observed in patients with influenza who have not taken the drug.
GlaxoSmithKline tops its peers with $7.16B in 2017 vaccine sales
GlaxoSmithKline turned in enough vaccine sales to lead the industry in 2017, and that was without much contribution from its newly launched shingles vaccine, Shingrix. The company's vaccines business grew sales 6% at constant exchange rates as its larger pharma and consumer healthcare units posted meager growth. The company's vaccines pulled in £5.16 billion ($7.16 billion) for the year, besting Merck's $6.5 billion, Sanofi's $6.25 billion and Pfizer's $6 billion. Flu vaccines jumped 12% to £488 million ($677 million)
Tamiflu costs have sufferers trying alternatives, but Tamiflu still best bet
Some people who have the flu are searching for other ways to make themselves feel better because of Tamiflu’s high price tag. Tamiflu can cost you anywhere from $20 to more than $100 depending on your insurance. It can cost you even more if multiple people in your family get sick. Because of its high price tag, Pace said some patients have been reaching for an herbal medicine called Oscillococcinum instead.
Academic studies
Researchers May Have the Answer to Preventing Future Flu Outbreaks
The Columbia University Irving Medical Center may have found a way to very simply halt the flu virus’ spread. Researchers at the university have found that far ultraviolet C light (far-UVC) is lethal to the flu, while not being harmful to human tissue. If confirmed, this could severely diminish people’s exposure to the flu in public places.
Influenza: vaccination essential in children with neurologic disorders
Key Results - Study of children with neurologic disorders (n=184,460), their siblings (n=204,960), and a general pediatric sample (n=4,697,486). Epilepsy was the most common disorder (136,240 person-years [74%] with isolated epilepsy). Overall, 34.6% of children with neurologic disorders vs 28.1% siblings or 23.8% of general pediatric population were vaccinated (P<.01). Vaccination was lowest among children with epilepsy (30.9%). Vaccination coverage in children with neurologic disorders increased from 22.4% (2006-2007) to 42.3% (2013-2014), but declined with age and was lowest in children aged 10-17 years.
Study shows youngest kids most at risk of flu death
A new analysis of seasonal flu deaths in US children in the six seasons that followed the 2009 H1N1 pandemic reveals that children ages 2 and younger are most at risk, and of children who died, less than a third had been vaccinated against the disease. Researchers said some of the main messages from the study are the need to improve flu vaccination coverage in children and that prompt antiviral treatment should be given, especially in young children, those with underlying illness, and those who hare hospitalized with suspected flu.
Researchers focused on creating next flu vaccine
Dr. Kristen Delaney-Nguyen worked on a flu virus vaccine 10 years ago while at Wake Forest University. She was interested to know why this year's strain is so deadly, so she ran the numbers and discovered the mutation rate of this year's virus. Nguyen says this year's strain of the virus has been particularly deadly because it has a mutation rate five times greater than expected.
Pediatric influenza news
Heartbroken family explains why 3-year-old who died from flu wasn't vaccinated
An Indiana family that decided against vaccinating a 3-year-old is now haunted by that decision, wondering if a flu shot could have saved the girl's life. Alivia’s parents declined to give her the flu shot after hearing that the vaccination could be ineffective. At least 63 children have died from influenza in the current flu season, according to the CDC, which is urging those who haven't been vaccinated to do so.
North Bergen Girl, 6, Died From Flu, NJ DOH Confirms
The death of a 6-year-old girl in North Bergen, New Jersey was caused by the flu, the state Department of Health confirmed Tuesday. The girl was the second New Jersey child to die from the flu amid the epidemic this season. Authorities said the 6-year-old became ill over the weekend and her condition quickly deteriorated.
Pediatrics: Influenza Associated Pediatric Deaths - US 2010–2016
In the U.S., since reporting became mandatory after the high-severe flu season of 2003-04, yearly pediatric influenza deaths have ranged from a low of 35 during the 2011-2012 flu season to a high of 282 during the 2009—2010 H1N1 pandemic. As tragic as the 2009 pandemic tally was, the CDC estimated that the number of pediatric deaths in the United States probably ranged from 910 to 1880, or anywhere from 3 to 6 times higher than reported. Even during non-pandemic seasons, the CDC believes the officially reported numbers likely understate the true number of pediatric deaths due to influenza by half.
10% of Guelph students off school sick: officials
In Canada, a flu season that has seen two Guelph students die from the virus is continuing to take a toll across the city. Public health officials said that an estimated 10 per cent of students were absent from school due to respiratory illness. Two students at Westminster Woods Public School – a 12-year-old girl and a seven-year-old boy – have died of influenza since Jan. 31. Health officials say the flu shot remains the best way of defending against the influenza virus.
Over 65’s influenza news
Some May Consider Second Flu Vaccine
Anyone over 65 or with underlying health conditions who got a shot in August or early September of 2017 should also talk with their doctor about a second flu shot, said Dr. Hardesty, an emergency medicine physician at Texas Health Resources. "A second flu shot probably wouldn't be a bad idea and it's unlikely to cause any harm, so if it's a case where someone's in a situation where they got an early season shot and we have a long flu season, it might be a good idea for those patients to get a second immunization," said Dr. Hardesty.
General Influenza News
Employers who don't offer paid sick leave are making flu season worse
This year's vaccine is less effective against the strain of virus making the rounds. But there's another factor that gives aggressive viruses like this one an extra punch in the United States: lack of access to paid sick time. In recent years, a number of studies have attempted to quantify the extent to which sick employees are making influenza outbreaks worse. In 2010, a policy brief published by the Institute for Women's Policy Research used data from the CDC and the BLS to estimate that during the virulent 2009 flu season, about 8 million American workers went to work while infected with the influenza virus, causing an additional 7 million people to get sick in the process.
Why there are conflicting numbers on the flu shot efficacy
Dr. Mark Loeb, an infectious disease expert with the department of medicine at McMaster University, said it's challenging to pinpoint how effective the flu shot is in preventing the flu because it depends on what strain is being discussed. "The match this year between what's in the vaccine and what's circulating is pretty good on paper, but sometimes in the manufacturing process, there's changes that occur even in to the strain that is made in the vaccine and that can cause a difference," he said. Early estimates of effectiveness for this year's strain of influenza A suggests it sits around 10 to 20 per cent and 55 per cent for influenza B.
How We Can Prevent the Next Killer Flu Epidemic
There are many avenues to explore in order to improve our response to the flu; for instance, regulators should encourage manufacturers to stop using chicken eggs and instead prepare vaccines in “cultured cells”. This method would produce vaccines with greater fidelity to the targeted flu strains. There is also a need for more clinical research on making flu vaccination more effective in elderly vaccinees. An increase in research funding on adjuvants, more effective dosing regimens (especially for seniors) and better production methods are achievable changes that would better prepare us to face flu outbreaks.
How did researchers get the flu vaccine so wrong this year?
The CDC reports this year's flu vaccine is only about 30 percent effective against the flu's most common strain this year. Technically, researchers had the right answers when formulating this year's flu vaccine. But the virus cheated. The vaccine creation process takes roughly six to nine months and during the time the virus— either circulating or within the vaccine itself — can mutate and render those projections moot.
President Trump has been dangerously silent on this year's deadly flu epidemic
In the U.S., the flu season is severe. As of last week, the flu and pneumonia are causing one in 10 deaths in America. Yet the White House has been largely silent about it. The Trump administration’s handling of this year’s dangerous flu season has included some missteps and missed opportunities. Michael Osterholm of the CDC, said the CDC has done its job this flu season. While the president saying he got a flu shot would be helpful, he said, it’s not critical. Instead, he cautioned that what will really be telling about the Trump administration’s handling of influenza moving forward is how it approaches funding for research on vaccines.
Burden of disease
Special education teacher on life support with flu after giving birth
A special education teacher in Texas is reportedly on life support after contracting both strains of influenza. Crystal Whitley got the flu shot in October after giving birth to her son, family members said. But she caught both the H3N2 and H1N1 flu strains two weeks ago. Then she came down with pneumonia in both lungs and contracted MRSA
Mother-of-five teacher, 35, who was hospitalized with the flu just four months after giving birth is now on life support "after contracting another strain in the ward"
H1N1 influenza kills 21 people in Algeria
The H1N1 influenza has killed 21 people in Algeria, a local health official said on Tuesday. "Our services confirmed that as many as 21 people aged between 4 and 65 were killed by swine flu virus of H1N1," Djamel Fourar, Director of Prevention at Health Ministry, was quoted as saying by state TV.
Swine flu on the rise in Islamabad
As many as 17 cases of swine influenza infection were reported at the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS), which resulted in the death of two other patients admitted in the hospital in the last two days. In January, 23 people died due to swine influenza in different cities of Punjab.
Arkansas Flu Deaths Climb to 140
Another 15 people have died from the flu in Arkansas in the last week. The Arkansas Department of Health's weekly flu report issued on Tuesday is for the week ending Feb. 10. The report shows that to date, 140 influenza-related deaths have been reported in Arkansas this flu season, 137 among adult persons and 3 pediatric deaths. The total last week was at 125.
Flu cases on the rise in Philadelphia area
The number of influenza cases being reported across the Philadelphia area is exploding. Doctors across the region are reporting a huge spike in the H3N2 strain of the flu, also known as Type A, and it is packing a punch. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health, there have been 26 influenza-related deaths last week alone.
U.S. Hospitalization Rates Due To Flu Have Increased Alarmingly
The U.S. is being ravaged by its worst flu season in years. The intensity of the current outbreak has surprised experts and the infection rate stands at about eight percent, as bad as the swine flu epidemic nine years ago. Back then, 60.8 million Americans contracted the virus of which 274,304 were hospitalized and 12,469 died. As bad as that outbreak was, the 2014-2015 flu season was far more lethal with 710,000 people hospitalized and 56,000 dying, according to the CDC. Worryingly, the rate of hospitalizations is the highest the CDC has ever recorded at this point in the U.S. flu season.
Flu Surveillance in Animals
New Strain of Avian Flu Spreading
The outbreak of avian flu across Iran is posing a new threat. According to Secretary-General of Iran’s Union of Producers of Egg-Laying Hen Farzad Talakesh, the new H5N6 strain reported in the north of the country can be transmitted to humans and is beginning to spread to other regions, Mehr News Agency reported.
Black-headed gull carcass tests positive for H5N6 virus
In Hong Kong, the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department said that the carcass of a black-headed gull found in Lau Fau Shan, Tin Shui Wai, was confirmed as having the H5N6 avian influenza virus after laboratory testing.
Iran: Media Reporting 40% Of Nation's Poultry Lost To Avian Flu
Officially, Iran hasn't notified the OIE of any new H5N8 poultry outbreaks in nearly a year, having last reported 30 outbreaks between November 2016-January 2017 involving the loss of just over 1 million birds. Unofficially, we continue to see media (and sometimes Ministry of Agriculture) reports indicating that H5N8 avian flu continues to devastate their poultry industry, driving food prices higher, and contributing to the societal discontent which led to protests in December
Avian flu hits more poultry in Iraq, Iran, Asia
Iraq has reported another highly pathogenic H5N8 avian influenza outbreak on a commercial poultry farm, part of ongoing activity in a handful of countries in the Middle East, as events involving other strains were confirmed in Cambodia, South Korea, and Taiwan.