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Vaccines with two strains of influenza may be more effective in children, research team says

BY DSN STAFF

ST. LOUIS Vaccines likely would work better in protecting children from flu if they included both strains of influenza B instead of just one, a St. Louis University press report stated last week, citing research conducted through its Center for Vaccine Development.

"Adding a second influenza B virus strain to the seasonal influenza vaccine would take some of the guesswork out of strain selection and help improve the vaccine’s ability to prevent influenza," stated Robert Belshe, lead investigator and director of the center. "Since in five of the last 10 years, the influenza B component in the vaccine has been the incorrect one, this seems like an obvious advance to me."

Every spring, scientists predict which strain of influenza will be circulating in the community the following fall. Historically, they choose two different subtypes of influenza A and one of influenza B.

 

Research findings in the March issue of Vaccine highlight the importance of adding both lines of influenza B into the vaccine to better protect against the flu, Belshe noted.

 

 

The research team examined how well current vaccines protect against influenza B by looking at the immune response of ferrets that were given FluMist, a live attenuated influenza vaccine manufactured by MedImmune.

 

 

When ferrets were vaccinated against influenza, the ferrets that were exposed to a strain of influenza B virus that did not match what was in the vaccine didn’t have a strong antibody response. However they had a vigorous antibody response when given a vaccine that contained both strains of influenza B.

 

 

This showed that immunizing against one strain of influenza B does not appear to protect against the other strain and that a vaccine containing both influenza B strains is likely to offer greater protection from flu.

 

 

"These data highlight the need for vaccination strategies that provide enhanced protection against both lineages of influenza B," Belshe said.

 

 

The study was sponsored by MedImmune. Belshe has served as a consultant and as part of the speakers bureau for MedImmune and other study authors are MedImmune employees.

 

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Walgreens officially owns Duane Reade

BY Allison Cerra

DEERFIELD, Ill. Walgreens on Friday completed its acquisition of Duane Reade’s 258 drug stores, as well as the chain’s corporate office and two distribution centers.

Walgreens currently plans for Duane Reade to continue operating under its brand name. With 70 Walgreens stores in the New York City metropolitan area, Walgreens said it will consider the most effective way to harmonize both brands over time.

Meanwhile, John Spina, Walgreens VP retail integration and new format development, will continue to oversee the Duane Reade integration process as he has since the acquisition was announced. Spina will work closely with Duane Reade Chairman and CEO John Lederer, who will continue to direct Duane Reade operations. Spina’s responsibility for leading Walgreens Rewiring for Growth initiative –– which is on track to deliver $1 billion in annual cost reductions in fiscal 2011 –– was recently transitioned to Don Huonker, Walgreens SVP healthcare innovation.

“Just as Walgreens has been a trusted community pharmacy for more than 100 years, we plan for Duane Reade to continue as the leading drugstore that millions of New Yorkers rely upon,” said Walgreens president and CEO Greg Wasson. “By combining the strengths of our two companies, we can improve our position as the most convenient provider of consumer goods and services, and pharmacy, health and wellness services in the country.”

Walgreens intends to promptly repay or redeem outstanding indebtedness of Duane Reade and its affiliates pursuant to its credit agreement, dated as of July 21, 2003, its 9.75% senior subordinated notes due 2011, its 11.75% senior secured notes due 2015, and its senior convertible notes due 2022.

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Costco sales increase 12% in March

BY Alaric DeArment

ISSAQUAH, Wash. Sales at club retailer Costco have continued to be on an upswing, according to monthly sales results announced Thursday.

The Issaquah, Wash.-based mass merchandiser reported global net sales of $7.14 billion in March, a 12% increase over $6.4 billion in March 2009. For the 31-week period that ended on Wednesday, the company reported sales of $45.2 billion, a 9% increase over the $41.48 billion during the same period last year. Costco’s fiscal year 2009 ended on Aug. 30.

The economic recession put a dent in Costco’s U.S. sales last year, as the company reported sales of $56.5 billion, compared with $57 billion in 2008. But as consumers have started pulling their wallets back out of their pockets, the retailer’s sales have increased as well. The company reported global second quarter 2010 sales of $18.36 billion and sales for the first half of the year of $35.28 billion, compared with $16.49 billion and $32.52 billion during the same periods last year, respectively.

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