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GSK can ship four-strain flu vaccine


PHILADELPHIA — The Food and Drug Administration has approved for shipment the latest version of a GlaxoSmithKline flu vaccine, the drug maker said Monday.

The FDA approved the Fluarix Quadrivalent (influenza virus vaccine) for the 2013-2014 season for shipment to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention distribution centers and healthcare providers. GSK said this would be the first season in which vaccines protecting against more than three strains will be available.

"Quadrivalent" means the vaccine protects against four strains. Most flu vaccines are trivalent, protecting against two influenza A strains and one influenza B strain, while the new vaccine protects against an additional B strain.

"Trivalent influenza vaccines offer important protection against influenza," GSK Vaccines VP scientific affairs and public policy for North America Leonard Friedland said. "But since the late 1980s, scientists noted that two B virus lineage strains circulate to varying degrees each year, and it's difficult to predict which one will cause the most illness in a particular influenza season."


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