US drug maker Merck & Co., today said that it had entered into an exclusive five-year marketing agreement with CSL Biotherapies, a subsidiary of CSL Limited, to market and distribute CSL's seasonal influenza virus vaccine, Afluria, in the US, for an undisclosed sum.
With the addition of seasonal flu vaccine, Merck will market eight of the 10 vaccines on the recommended immunization schedule for adults in the US.
The agreement comes into force from 2010-2011 to 2015-2016, during which period Merck will assume responsibility for all aspects of commercialisation of Afluria in the US.
CSL and Merck have been partners in vaccine development and marketing since 1980. Under the agreement, CSL will supply Afluria to Merck and will retain responsibility for marketing the vaccine outside the US.
Afluria was approved by the US FDA in September 2007 for the active immunisation of persons above 18 years against influenza disease caused by influenza virus subtypes A and type B present in the vaccine.
The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. According to the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, on an average, 5 per cent to 20 per cent of the population gets the flu every year in the US. Everyone is at risk for the flu, but some people, such as older people and people with certain health conditions, are at high risk for serious flu complications.
This indication is based on immune response elicited by Afluria, and there have been no controlled trials demonstrating a decrease in influenza disease after vaccination with Afluria.