Flu shots now open to all; officials fear fake Tamiflu

first_img “Starting today, October 24th, we’re making influenza shots available to everyone,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt. “There’s no reason for anyone to delay or go without their seasonal flu shot.” Von Eschenbach announced that the FDA is forming a “rapid response team” of experts to help make sure antiviral drugs are available in the event of a flu pandemic. In early September, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had recommended that flu shots be reserved for people at risk for serious flu complications until today. (The recommendation did not apply to MedImmune’s live-virus vaccine [FluMist], which is licensed only for healthy people between ages 5 and 49.) Despite some scattered shortages caused by delayed vaccine deliveries, the CDC stuck to that timetable. See also: “Providers in areas with sufficient flu vaccine already should open up their programs to the expanded group of people” not at high risk for complications, she said. She recommended that clinicians who have an ample supply of vaccine inform local public health officers so the latter can help shift surplus doses to providers who need them. CDC officials repeated their estimate that at least 71 million doses of flu vaccine will be available in the United States this season, compared with about 60 million last year, when the loss of 48 million doses expected from Chiron triggered shortages. CDC Director Dr. Julie Gerberding said the flu season is just beginning. “We’re seeing very sporadic activity in seven states, and local activity in one state.” Leavitt observed that oseltamivir has been “much in the news” because of the chance that H5N1 avian flu will lead to a human flu pandemic. Many countries, including the United States, are trying to build stockpiles of oseltamivir, but the drug takes a long time to produce. Some localized vaccine shortages have been reported as a result of delayed deliveries, but they are expected to clear up soon, Gerberding said. At a news briefing, officials also warned that the threat of a flu pandemic may spur the sale of fake versions of the antiviral drug oseltamivir (Tamiflu). To make sure they get the genuine article, officials said, people should seek the drug through their physician. The best way to avoid fake oseltamivir is to get it from state-licensed pharmacies, said von Eschenbach. “We feel strongly that the best protection for patients is to avail themselves of the drug in the context of a doctor-patient relationship.”center_img He added that people seeking a flu shot should make an appointment, because some providers may not have received their vaccine yet. In a news release issued this afternoon, he said, “Using the Rapid Response Team approach, we believe we could review a complete drug application in six to eight weeks.” Because demand for the drug far exceeds the supply, said Leavitt, “We’re concerned about the threat of counterfeiting of Tamiflu.” The CDC still expects 60 million doses from Sanofi Pasteur, 3 million from MedImmune, and 8 million from GlaxoSmithKline, said CDC spokeswoman Christina Pearson. She said the agency also expects up to 18 million doses from Chiron, which until last week was projecting 18 million to 26 million. Gerberding said that right now she does not expect a shortage of oseltamivir for use against seasonal flu. “The manufacturer still has several million doses in the pipeline,” she said. “The doses that haven’t been distributed yet exceed the number prescribed last year by a significant amount. At this point there’s no evidence of a shortage that’s going to result in any clinical impact on patients. We’ll monitor that.” Oct 24, 2005 (CIDRAP News) – Seasonal influenza shots are not just for high-risk groups anymore, and everyone interested in a shot should go ahead and seek one out, federal health officials said today. Gerberding said people who experience flu symptoms and have not been vaccinated, especially if they are in a high-risk group, should call their physician promptly to find out if treatment with an antiviral drug would be appropriate. Preventive treatment with an antiviral may be indicated n some cases, such as for people who can’t be vaccinated because of an egg allergy. In response to questions, Leavitt and Andrew von Eschenbach, acting commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), said they had seen no evidence of counterfeiting to date. But Leavitt said, “It’s a situation that’s ripe for counterfeiting. The WHO [World Health Organization] now indicates that counterfeit drug making is a $34 billion–a-year industry. We’re seeing it in many other instances.” FDA news releasehttp://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/2005/ucm108502.htmlast_img read more

Bermuda can reach Gold Cup quarter-finals, says coach

first_imgKyle Lightbourne believes his side can be among the last eight teams in the Gold Cup. SAN JOSE, Costa Rica (CMC) – National coach Kyle Lightbourne believes Bermuda can reach the quarter-finals as they prepare to make their debut in the CONCACAF Gold Cup against Haiti at the weekend.But 50-year-old Lightbourne, currently enjoying his second stint at the helm after he led the team from 2005 to 2007, admits a positive result against Haiti is key if Bermuda is to achieve their goal of advancing to the quarter-finals.Bermuda, who arrived here on Monday ahead of their opening game against Haiti today, must finish in the top two in Group B, which also includes Costa Rica and Nicaragua.Although Lightbourne’s side finished a lofty fifth in the CONCACAF Nations League qualifiers, ahead of Nicaragua, whom they play in their final group game, Bermuda are the lowest ranked of the four teams.Haiti finished top of the standings while Costa Rica qualified automatically as participants in the final round of the World Cup qualifiers in 2018.“The boys are confident and we feel like we can match most teams,” Lightbourne told Bermuda’s Royal Gazette newspaper.“We want to try our best to get through to the next stage. We definitely want to make it hard for teams to play against us. We saw a lot of the things we’ve been working on in training against Guyana – on the ball in the first half and defensively in the second. It’s on the day that we need to get it right.”Bermuda beat Guyana, who are also making their Gold Cup debut, 1-0 at home in a friendly last week.Bermuda showed they are made of sterner stuff these days, fighting back from a goal down in their must-win match away to the Dominican Republic in their final Nations League qualifier, and Lightbourne believes it will be a huge mistake if Haiti take his side lightly.“Since the Nations League started we’ve really grown into a good unit,” he added. “We showed we can come from behind against the Dominican Republic, but now we’re going to be tested at a different level.”Bermuda have qualified in League A of the Nations League and have home and away ties in Group B against Mexico and Panama in the autumn.“We want to be able to stay at this level,” Lightbourne said. “However, we’re going to have to learn and learn quickly, if we are to build off this. There are opportunities for us to grow as a foot-balling nation.”The Gold Cup has been extended from 12 teams to 16 teams, split into four groups. The final is scheduled to be played on July 7 at Soldier Field in Chicago. BERMUDA…center_img Caption:last_img read more