HEALTH

Novartis completes first batch of influenza A(H1N1) vaccine

BY Michael Johnsen

BASEL, Switzerland Novartis has successfully completed the production of the first batch of influenza A(H1N1) vaccine, the vaccine against the novel H1N1 influenza virus responsible for the current pandemic, weeks ahead of expectations, the vaccine manufacturer announced Friday.

The quick turnaround was made possible through cell-based manufacturing technology, which allows vaccine production to be initiated once a pandemic virus strain is identified without the need to adapt the virus strain to grow in eggs, as with traditional vaccine technologies. This advance has cut weeks off the time required to begin vaccine production, Novartis stated.

“The speed advantages of our cell-based production approach and our unwavering commitment to address this public health emergency have resulted in our ability to provide the fastest possible response to this outbreak,” stated Andrin Oswald, CEO of Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics.

This first batch of 10 liters of wild type influenza A(H1N1) vaccine monobulk will be used for pre-clinical evaluation and testing and is also being considered for use in clinical trials. It demonstrates the value of the cell-based production approach, that is also being used by Novartis with reassortant influenza A(H1N1) seed.

Based on this success with the wild type, Novartis expects to be able to achieve rapid scale up of influenza A(H1N1) vaccine manufacture with reassortant seed, which was provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on May 27. The company plans to start clinical trials with that vaccine in July and expects licensure in the fall 2009.

More than 30 governments have made requests to Novartis to supply them with influenza A(H1N1) vaccine ingredients, including a $289 million order made by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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Natrol launches vitamin supplement

BY Michael Johnsen

CHATSWORTH, Calif. Natrol on Thursday launched Fish Oil + Vitamin D3, a combination of nutrients for overall health and immunity. The supplement is formulated as a softgel to be taken once daily at an average suggested retail price of $16.99.

The company cited recent scientific studies that have shown vitamin D3 — the vitamin that the body manufactures from sunlight — to be beneficial for aiding overall health, including bone health, immunity support and cellular protection in both men and women, and especially for middle-age and older adults, as the genesis for combining the two ingredients.

Commonly known for their heart health and bone health benefits, fish oil (omega-3 fats) and vitamin D have recently been studied for their cellular activity and abilities to promote breast health, colon health and prostate health, Natrol added. At the cellular level, research shows that omega-3 fats are the building blocks for cellular membranes.

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Stayhealthy presents wireless body-fat analyzer; final product to be HealthVault-friendly

BY Michael Johnsen

BELLEVUE, Wash. Following a two-year clinical study at the University of Southern California, Stayhealthy on Thursday introduced their next generation body composition analysis technology at Microsoft’s Connected Health Conference.

The technology accurately measures body composition in various forms depending on the need – from a home use individual device that will retail for less than $100 to a commercial grade device for physicians, fitness and nutrition professionals.

The devices will be able to upload the data directly into Microsoft HealthVault. “Stayhealthy’s body composition analysis is an example of inexpensive and innovative technology that connects with HealthVault to really make a difference in improving healthcare,” stated David Cerino, general manager of the Consumer Health Solutions Group at Microsoft. “Through our cooperative efforts, we are creating technology that brings together the power of the web, server-based processing and medical grade devices to deliver a revolutionary means of helping people better understand and measure their weight-related health risks.”

“At a time when our nation faces a healthcare crisis driven by excess weight and obesity, we are excited to introduce the Stayhealthy Body

Composition Analysis technology,” stated John Collins, CEO of Stayhealthy. “By providing this technology we hope to help millions of people track their body compositions and make positive adjustments as necessary.”

Stayhealthy’s Body Composition Analysis technology incorporates two elements – a physical data collection device that utilizes bio-impedance technology, and a proprietary server-based algorithm that analyzes the data collected at the device and provides a precise body composition reading via the Internet back to the user’s computer.

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