New FluMist shows promise in trial

December 13, 2005|By BLOOMBERG NEWS

MedImmune Inc. said yesterday that a new version of its FluMist influenza vaccine, which is given as a nasal spray, was more effective than standard flu shots in a study of small children. The company's stock gained 4.54 percent.

In a clinical trial of 8,492 children, ages 6 months to 5 years, the influenza infection rate of those who received MedImmune's CAIV-T nasal spray was 3.9 percent, compared with 8.6 percent among children who got a standard flu shot, Medimmune said in a statement on its Web site.

The Gaithersburg biotechnology company already has filed for Food and Drug Administration approval of the new version of FluMist for use in healthy individuals ages 5 to 49 years and expects the product to be available for the flu season that starts next year. The company said it would seek FDA clearance for using CAIV-T in children younger than 5 in the second quarter next year.

Shares of MedImmune rose $1.55 to close at $35.71.

The CAIV-T vaccine differs from FluMist, which was approved in 2003 for healthy people ages 5 to 49 years, in that it can be kept refrigerated instead of frozen, making it easier to store and distribute.

Both vaccines contain weakened live viruses instead of killed viruses used in injected flu shots.

"This study adds accumulatively to the body of information for CAIV-T and will lead to approval for children as young as 6 months of age," predicted David M. Mott, MedImmune's chief executive, in a conference call yesterday with investors and analysts.

The company is hoping the new vaccine will be approved for adults over the age of 49 as well. Both groups, the older and the very young, are more likely to develop dangerous complications from the flu.

Sun reporters contributed to this article.

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