H1N1 virus returns at high levels this flu season
The same H1N1 virus to cause a pandemic in 2009 is by far the predominant influenza virus for the 2013-2014 season. This is the first season that the H1N1 virus has circulated at high levels since the pandemic.
However, the Northern Hemisphere quadrivalent and trivalent vaccines for the 2013-2014 season are well-matched to the H1N1 virus in circulation, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s FluView report for the week ended Jan. 4.
Even though flu incidence started picking up later into the season, more people had gotten flu shots this season. “Overall, about 40% of the general population had reported getting a flu vaccine by mid-November,” noted Ann Schuchat, CDC’s director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. “That is about three percentage points higher than last year at the same time, and most of the increase that we see is increases in adults getting vaccinated.”
“We estimate based on a conservative model that during last year’s flu season, … flu vaccination prevented at least 6.6 million people from getting sick with the flu, 3.2 million people from going to see a doctor or other healthcare professional and at least 79,000 hospitalizations,” said Tom Frieden, CDC director. “We’ve looked at the last few flu years going back with a similar model, all the way back to 2005, and this is by far the largest number of hospitalizations and other illnesses we’ve seen prevented. The high numbers prevented from last year were partly attributable to the fact that last year was a relatively severe season.”
As of Jan. 4, 35 states were experiencing widespread activity, and 20 states were reporting high levels of influenza-like illness. However, flu incidence this year is less pervasive than last year, running 5% to 10% below last year.
Nationwide for the week ended Jan. 4, 4.4% of patient visits reported through the U.S. Outpatient Influenza-like Illness Surveillance Network were due to influenza-like illness. This percentage is above the national baseline of 2%. Influenza-like illness is defined as a temperature of 100°F or greater, and cough and/or sore throat.
The neuraminidase inhibitors Tamiflu (oseltamivir) and Relenza (zanamivir) are currently the only recommended influenza antiviral drugs.
While the vast majority of the viruses that have been tested are sensitive to Tamiflu and Relenza, three additional 2009 H1N1 viruses proved resistant to Tamiflu during the week ended Jan. 4. So far this season, 13 (1.2%) 2009 H1N1 viruses have shown resistance to Tamiflu. No viruses have shown resistance to Relenza.
As in recent past seasons, high levels of resistance to the adamantanes — Symmetrel (amantadine) and Flumadine (rimantadine) — continue to persist among 2009 H1N1 and influenza A (H3N2) viruses. Adamantanes are not effective against influenza B viruses. Adamantanes are not recommended for use against influenza this season, the CDC noted.
Inaugural H. D. Smith & NAPPSA Scholarship award goes to University of Kentucky student
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — H.D. Smith and the Nigerian Association of Pharmacists and Pharmaceutical Scientists in the Americas on Monday awarded the inaugural H. D. Smith & NAPPSA Scholarship to Oreoluwa Adedoyin.
Pharmacy students affiliated with the NAPPSA vied for a $1,000 scholarship as a part of an inaugural program sponsored by H. D. Smith for NAPPSA’s qualifying student members. “This scholarship program promotes a bright future for our young Nigerian pharmacists and brings our partnership with H. D. Smith to a new level,” stated Emmanuel Ezirim, NAPPSA board member and business to business coordinator.
“We are pleased to offer this program through our partnership with NAPPSA to recognize the efforts of promising and accomplished pharmacy students who will impact the future of community pharmacy,” Rob Meriweather, H. D. Smith director national accounts retail sales, said.
Eligible applicants were required to be enrolled in a Pharm.D. or graduate program relevant to pharmaceutical sciences in a university in the United States and had to be considered in good standing as defined by the educational institution. Applicants were asked to provide an essay reflecting on why the applicant believed he or she should be selected.
Oreoluwa Adedoyin of the University of Kentucky was awarded the scholarship. Oreoluwa is studying Pharmaceutical Sciences and holds a GPA above 3.85. She will use the funds towards school materials and to attend the 2014 NAPPSA meeting.
“We believe that Oreoluwa emulates all the desired aspects of the winner, and more importantly, that of a community pharmacist of the future,” noted Adeboye Adejare, chairman of the NAPPSA Scholarship Award Committee.
Actavis divests China subsidiary
DUBLIN — Actavis last week announced that it has signed and completed an agreement for Zhejiang Chiral Medicine Chemicals Co. to acquire Actavis’ interest in Actavis (Foshan) Pharmaceuticals Co., an Actavis subsidiary based in Foshan, China.
Actavis intends to continue further commercial operations in China in collaboration with its preferred business partners.
"Actavis is focused on strengthening our investment in high-growth markets where our size and scale allow us to maintain a competitive presence with the leading companies in the market," Sigurdur Oli Olafsson, president, Actavis Pharma, said. "Our operations in Foshan were limited in scope and we believe that their value will be better capitalized on by Chiral, which will add manufacturing and marketing capabilities allowing them to expand their portfolio and strengthen their position in the Chinese market."