THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 29, 2016

Novartis starts shipping seasonal flu vaccines to U.S.

Novartis, a Basel, Switzerland-based healthcare company, announced on Wednesday that it started shipping its seasonal influenza vaccines to U.S. customers for the 2013-2014 season.

Novartis plans to ship 30 million doses of its vaccines at minimum, including doses of Fluvirin, a vaccine approved for use in people four years of age and older, and Flucelvax, a vaccine manufactured using cell-culture technology approved for use in adults 18 years of age and older.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends routine seasonal influenza vaccination for all individuals six months of age and older.

"Last year's flu season, which peaked early and was intense, is a significant reminder of the importance of annual seasonal flu vaccination," William Schaffner, a professor of medicine and preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University, said. "The CDC recommends annual influenza vaccination for all adults, and getting a flu vaccine is an important step in protecting one's health."

Novartis anticipates the majority of its shipments will be complete by October before the peak of influenza season.

Flucelvax was the first influenza vaccine developed through cell-based technology to be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

"Each year, Novartis is proud to help meet a significant public health need by providing its seasonal flu vaccines to enable healthcare providers and pharmacists to help protect individuals and families from the flu," Brent MacGregor, Novartis' president of U.S. vaccines and the head of the North American region, said. "We are pleased to offer a portfolio of flu vaccines that includes Flucelvax, which reflects how we are rethinking flu vaccination with a new approach to vaccine production and which offers a choice to consumers."

Approximately 40,000 people die from influenza and its complications annually in the U.S.