HEALTH

GSK study proves efficacy of Fluarix Tetra flu shot in children

BY Michael Johnsen

GSK today released new data published in The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health from a Phase III clinical trial using Fluarix Tetra (inactivated quadrivalent influenza vaccine) which prevented influenza A and B in children six to 35 months of age.

“Young children belong to one of the high-risk groups for influenza and are at particular risk of complications and severe disease, even when they are otherwise healthy. In addition, children play a major role in the dissemination of influenza in any community across the world,” Thomas Breuer, chief medical officer, GSK Vaccines, said. “This study is the first randomized clinical trial designed to evaluate vaccine efficacy for a Quadrivalent influenza vaccine in young children. It adds to the growing body of evidence to support universal vaccination including all children from six months of age to help prevent influenza in this age group, as well as the spread of influenza across the community.”

Vaccine efficacy was highest against moderate-to-severe influenza, where the disease is associated with the greatest medical and socioeconomic burden. The study met its two primary endpoints, demonstrating 63.2% vaccine efficacy against laboratory-confirmed moderate-to-severe influenza, and 49.8% vaccine efficacy against influenza of any severity in children six to 35 months of age.

Data from the secondary endpoint, looking at culture-confirmed influenza due to influenza strains matching the vaccine strains, showed vaccine efficacy in this subset was even higher. Vaccine efficacy against moderate-to-severe influenza was 77.6% and vaccine efficacy against influenza of any severity was 60.1%.

The study also found that the vaccine reduced the impact of influenza on healthcare utilization and daily activities, approximately halving the likelihood of visits to a doctor, antibiotic use, parental work absence and missed day-care related to the current influenza illness. This is the first study to demonstrate the impact, in a randomized clinical trial, of influenza vaccination on the use of antibiotics.

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New blood pressure guidelines implemented across higi kiosks

BY Michael Johnsen

Higi on Tuesday announced their commitment to implementing the new American College of Cardiology and American Heart Association 2017 blood pressure guidelines across the 11,000 FDA-cleared higi stations at retail stores and community locations nationwide.

“At higi, we are committed to helping retailers and healthcare providers better reach consumers in their health. Following the announcement of the new blood pressure guidelines, we witnessed a nearly 30% increase in the number of higi population health screenings that will be considered hypertensive,” Jeff Bennett, CEO of Chicago-based higi, said. “Through our trusted partnerships with the retail community, higi is uniquely suited to deliver a convenient population health screening venue without requiring a significant increase in medical staffing to address the increased volume of patients.”

The November 2017 announcement by ACC and AHA to update the blood pressure guidelines underscores the importance key biometrics, particularily blood pressure, means for the health of consumers. Under the new guidelines, almost two-thirds (24 million) of the 39 million higi blood pressure screenings in 2017 were in the hypertensive range.

Today, every 90-seconds a higi user learns that he or she has their blood pressure in the hypertensive crisis range.

“After nearly 14 years, it was important for the hypertension guidelines to be updated. An abundance of research and evidence has repeatedly demonstrated a high number of hypertension related cardiovascular events occurring in individuals that have blood pressure previously considered in the ‘pre-hypertensive’ range,” Khan Siddiqui, higi chief medical officer and chief technology officer, said. “With this change, health organizations, including pharmacists located at convenient points of care, will be better equipped to save lives and money by preventing more strokes, cardiovascular events and kidney failure while increasing awareness of the risk of hypertension – considered one of the deadliest ‘silent killers.’”

Beginning in late March 2018, higi will implement the new blood pressure guidelines at all 11,000 higi health stations across the entire North American network. As part of this announcement, educational information will be incorporated into the higi station experience, informing consumers about the new blood pressure guidelines, what it means for their personal health and how lifestyle changes can impact their overall health.

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Former Walgreens chief healthcare exec joins Fitbit board

BY Michael Johnsen

Fitbit on Tuesday announced that Brad Fluegel has joined the Fitbit board of directors. Fluegel recently retired as senior vice president, chief healthcare commercial market development officer for Walgreens.

“Brad brings extensive experience that will be invaluable as we continue to integrate more deeply into the healthcare system. This includes his work with some of the nation’s largest health insurers along with driving long term growth strategies within the healthcare industry at large,” James Park, CEO of Fitbit, said. “We welcome his insights and leadership as we expand and scale our healthcare offerings.”

Fluegel had joined Walgreens in October 2012 after holding senior leadership roles at Anthem, Aetna and United Health Group. A seasoned healthcare executive, he also served as executive in residence at Health Evolution Partners. Prior to that, he was executive vice president and chief strategy and external affairs officer of Anthem, one of the largest health benefits companies in the U.S., where he was responsible for long-term strategic planning, international expansion and new business ventures, among other roles.

Prior to Anthem, Fluegel was senior vice president of national accounts and vice president, enterprise strategy at Aetna. In this role, he was responsible for developing and executing on strategies that expanded Aetna’s position as a leader in the large employer market.

“As a leading brand with one of the largest databases of exercise, activity and sleep data as well as an engaged community of millions of users around the world, Fitbit is uniquely positioned to take what it has built and apply it to the healthcare industry, helping support better delivery of care,” Fluegel said. “I look forward to working with Fitbit’s leadership team as the company continues to make its vision to make the world healthier a reality.”

Fluegel joined the San Francisco-based wearable manufacturer effective March 4, 2018.

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