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6/16/2004

MedImmune Names FluMist Distributor

Kate Traynor

MedImmune Inc. announced Tuesday that it selected Henry Schein Inc. to distribute FluMist for the 2004–05 influenza season—the second season during which the live attenuated intranasal influenza vaccine will be available and the first since MedImmune and Wyeth dissolved an agreement to produce and distribute the product.

MedImmune also announced that it has cut the price of FluMist to $23.50 per returnable dose, down from last season's initial $46 list price.

According to a MedImmune press release, FluMist will be available only from Henry Schein and its subsidiaries Caligor Inc. and General Injectables & Vaccines Inc., which also distribute Fluvirin, Evans Vaccines' inactivated influenza vaccine.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) requested last month that health care providers begin ordering influenza vaccine for the upcoming influenza season. Vaccine distributors are currently taking orders for the Evans vaccine, FluMist, and Fluzone, Aventis Pasteur's inactivated influenza vaccine.

The Health Industry Distributors Association, in response to a request from CDC, maintains an online list of influenza vaccine distributors.

CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recently updated its recommendations for administering influenza vaccine. The committee has added children ages 6–23 months and their close contacts to the list of people targeted for vaccination.

Also new this season is a statement that health care workers, except for those who work with "severely immunosuppressed patients," may receive either inactivated or live vaccine. Health care workers who are in close contact with severely immunocompromised patients should receive the inactivated vaccine instead of the live intranasal product. Any health care worker who receives the live vaccine should avoid contact with severely immunosuppressed patients for seven days, according to CDC.

CDC stated last month that manufacturers are on track to produce a total of 90–100 million doses of influenza vaccine this year, including 6–8 million doses with reduced amounts of thimerosal. The agency stated that it plans to closely monitor vaccine availability and will make recommendations about vaccination timing and prioritization of vaccinees this summer.