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Novartis Begins Shipment of Fluvirin® Seasonal Influenza Vaccine for U.S. Market Ahead of Schedule

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Novartis Vaccines has started shipping seasonal influenza vaccine to U.S. healthcare facilities for the 2009-2010 season. The company delivered Fluvirin® influenza virus vaccine, which has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), to the U.S. weeks ahead of schedule in anticipation of the increased demand for seasonal influenza vaccine created by the current global (A) H1N1 influenza pandemic.

"With the (A) H1N1 influenza pandemic underway, it is important that we take every possible precaution to help protect U.S. citizens from all circulating strains of influenza," said Andrin Oswald, CEO of Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics. "By receiving the seasonal influenza vaccine early, physicians and public health officials can better prepare for the upcoming flu season."

An estimated 36,000 people in the United States die each year from the flu and another 200,000 are hospitalized. Early arrival of the seasonal influenza vaccine will also allow public health officials to begin administering vaccinations weeks ahead of their normal schedule, which is in accordance with guidelines from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Federal health officials advise that the single best way to protect against the flu is to get vaccinated each year, and that in general anyone who wants to reduce their chances of getting the flu can get vaccinated.

Novartis Vaccines will provide the U.S. market with approximately 30 million doses of Fluvirin vaccine, indicated for patients 4 years and older. Fluvirin vaccine contains antigens to the three influenza virus strains for this year's vaccine recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO):

• A/Brisbane/59/2007, IVR-148 (H1N1).
• A/Uruguay/716/2007, NYMC X-175C (H3N2) (an A/Brisbane/10/2007-like virus).
• B/Brisbane/60/2008.