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What Your Pharmacy Needs to Know about FluBlok, the First Recombinant Flu Vaccine

  • February 20, 2013
  • RPh on the Go

What Your Pharmacy Needs to Know about FluBlok, the First Recombinant Flu Vaccine

On Wednesday January 30th, 2013, the FDA approved its first recombinant flu vaccine for use in medical settings. This vaccine, known as FluBlok, is the first of its kind in the United States. What makes FluBlok unique is that it contains recombinant viral proteins, instead of antigens derived from live influenza virus. It will be available for the remainder of the flu season, and pharmacies should expect to see patients being prescribed it. FluBlok is an intramuscular injection, and arrives in vials of 10. The vaccine is both light and temperature sensitive, thus it should be stored properly within any pharmacy. FluBlok is not currently available for children or the elderly, and is currently only approved for adults ages 18-49.

How does FluBlok differ from Flucelvax?

FluBlok is not the first FDA approved cell-based vaccine used to combat influenza in the United States. Flucelvax, by Novartis Vaccines, was the first of its kind to appear in November of 2012. Flucelvax is derived from live virus; however, it is not a recombinant vaccine. Pharmacies should educate their staff on the differences between the two vaccines. It is at a physician’s discretion which to prescribe a patient to help prevent influenza.

How effective is FluBlok?

The efficiency of FluBlok remains in question. When one reviews FluBlok’s labeling, they are made aware that the efficacy of FluBlok against the three strains of influenza used in the vaccine could not be determined. This is largely due to the fact that 96% of the influenza viruses used during the clinical studies on FluBlok were not ones that matched the vaccine strains. FluBlok is officially noted as being 44% effective against all strains of the influenza virus currently known.

FluBlok remains a go-to in the event of an influenza epidemic. With many states currently listing this flu season as such, FluBlok will quickly become a staple in any pharmacy due to its ability to be produced faster than traditionally made vaccines. FluBlok also boasts the fact that it is not derived from eggs–thus safe for those with allergies to eggs, or those who choose to avoid them for ethical reasons. Given the severity of this year’s flu season, FluBlok’s approval arrives at the right place at the right time. Ordering, securing, and properly storing FluBlok will ensure that your pharmacy has the tools it needs to combat the remainder of flu season in 2013.

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