Archive for November, 2013

GSK’s malaria vaccine not for profit pricing says CEO Andrew Witty

Saturday, November 30th, 2013 (last updated)

Andrew Witty

Defying skeptics, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has persisted with its quest for a malarial vaccine for 30 years. The company is hopeful of filing for regulatory approval for it next year said CEO, Andrew Witty in an interview.

He said the vaccine will not be priced with an eye on profits as there is no point in pricing it at a level where the people who really need it cannot have it. “So, what people can be assured of is whatever the lowest cost we can get it to, that will be the price it gets passed through,” said Witty. Malaria vaccine is a good example of the company’s broad commitment to innovate and improve access to medicine and healthcare for people. It is not just a programme or a PR campaign, he said.

Question: Let me get your thoughts on the Malaria vaccine. When are you launching that?

Andrew Witty: Malaria vaccine – we have had very encouraging data over the last two years. We continue to analyze all of that data but we are hopeful and optimistic we are going to be able to file for regulatory approval during 2014. If all goes well that should give us the opportunity to start to look for approvals and then recommendations on use during I guess the end of 2015 and early 2016. We already have the first manufacturing capabilities built. First dosage will come out of Belgium. We have built a relatively small facility there. However, we have enough there to start. We are just going through the process of deciding where to install our next expansion capacity ready for higher demand. So, it is  a very exciting period. This programme began in the early 1980s, so, 30 years. Up until 5 years ago many people thought we were either crazy or dreaming to believe that we could ultimately find a vaccine and yet the data we are now seeing gives us a high degree of optimism that we could infact have the first potential vaccine for Malaria – not perfect – it won’t cover everything but could make a very material impact. That is why we are committed to going forward to file for approval.

Question: I head you in a conversation with Steve Forbes where you said you will sell this almost at cost but how much will it be priced at?

Andrew Witty: We haven’t finalised. We are still working to get the price as low as possible and a little bit it depends on how much the volume is. What we are committed to do is essentially to sell this not for profit price. So, what people can be assured of is whatever the lowest cost we can get it to that will be the price it gets passed through into.

Question: Would your shareholders be happy? It is 30 years in the making and you are not going to make a whopping profit out of it?

Andrew Witty: I hope they will be because we all understand that the communities who stand to benefit from a potential malaria vaccine really have very limited economic resources. So, to sit here and say we spent 30 years developing this incredible potential breakthrough and yet then to price it at a level where the very people who need it cannot have it seems to me to be wrong. Obviously, as a company of the size of GSK this fits within the portfolio of everything else we do; of course there is a cross subsidisation from other parts of our business to help us do this to some degree. Often people look at big companies and say what is your corporate responsibility activity – very often companies are criticised for whether it is just superficial? At GSK it is very hard to argue that. There is real evidence in several areas including the malaria area where we are really deploying our core business model to try and do the right thing in terms of help and improve health status not just for rich people but for everybody in the world. So, for me this fits within that really broad commitment that it is not just a programme, it is not just a PR campaign, we have a commitment to innovate and improve access to medicines and healthcare wherever people are. Malaria is a really good example of that and it sits very proudly alongside all the other things we do.

Money Control

Pampers & Unicef

Friday, November 29th, 2013 (last updated)

Pampers & Unicef are fighting against newborn tetanus in the 3rd world for 7 years. To show the achievement in the most emotional way, we gave video cameras to 7 year old children to film their stories. Stories that might have never happened without the Pamers & Unicef vaccine programme.


Alicia lost her daughter to meningitis B

Thursday, November 28th, 2013 (last updated)

Alicia lost her daughter to meningitis B recently. She supports Princeton University’s decision to recommend the meningitis B vaccine to its students in response to an outbreak. Her daughter was vaccinated with the current vaccine which does not protect against the B strain. She looks forward to a time when vaccines are available against all active strains of the disease. We hope you read her story.

meningitis b

Alicia’s Story:

My daughter Emily was 19 years-old when she contracted meningococcal meningitis. She was a sophomore at a small private liberal arts college called Kalamazoo College. She passed away on February 2nd of this year. Despite valiant efforts to save her life, she was declared brain dead within 36 hours of walking into the hospital complaining of a headache. They tried everything, including a craniotomy, to relieve the swelling caused by the disease. Nothing worked.

Emily had been vaccinated, but she had the B serogroup, which wasn’t covered by the vaccine. I was not aware that the current vaccines don’t prevent all strains of the disease. I take some comfort that I did everything in my power to protect her at that time. But, as a mom who lost my child to the B strain, I would have given anything for an opportunity to further protect Emily. I would certainly want my other children to have access to a vaccine that could protect them during an outbreak.

I don’t know how my Emily got the disease. The truth of the matter is that most cases of meningitis occur through exposure to an asymptomatic carrier.

It is so important for all students, faculty and families to learn about the symptoms of meningococcal disease and seek prompt medical attention. It is especially important because the infection can be mistaken for other illnesses. Emily started out with a headache. If I had known the symptoms I would have sent her to the hospital when she first complained of a headache. Emily’s headache was misdiagnosed for a migraine, which delayed treatment.

I got involved with the National Meningitis Association to help educate and protect other families.

Parents who Protect

How do vaccines prevent disease

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013 (last updated)

World Book Network

There are no kangaroos in vaccines

Tuesday, November 26th, 2013 (last updated)

Let’s say you were inventing a new flea powder, called Flea-B-Gone. To test it and manufacture it, you’d need a whole mess of fleas. As everyone knows, kangaroo fleas are hardy and docile, so you open up a kangaroo farm to grow your fleas. You treat the kangaroos well, and other than itchiness, they don’t have much to complain about as you scrape off their fleas to make your Flea-B-Gone. Again: no kangaroo parts end up in Flea-B-Gone. Just the fleas.

Would a reasonable person claim that Flea-B-Gone contains kangaroos?

Wait—what if your great-great-great (repeat that a thousand times)-grandmother actually started this business with her pet kangaroo, Kanga-Ook. Over thousands of generations, Ook had babies who grew up on the farm, who then had babies, and all of them grew up to be flea-wearing kangaroos. Thousands, maybe millions of generations later, would you say that modern Flea-B-Gone contains the ancient ancestor of your current kangaroo stock, old Kanga-Ook?


Anti-vaccine propagandists have a stock litany of claims, sort of a rogues gallery of misinformation that they’ll repeat, endlessly, hoping to fool someone into taking their side. When one claim is obviously known to be false, they’ll move on to the next one, until they recycle back to the beginning. This endless whack-a-mole leaves parents stunned and confused, which is the point of the anti-vaccine crowd. Confuse, obfuscate, pretend there is controversy where there is in fact none. Parents get scared of vaccines, and in some sick way I suppose the antivaccine people think they’ve won.

Today’s false claim: that vaccines contain “aborted fetal cells.” It’s an obvious lie, which would be clear to anyone who remembers middle school biology class. Still, it’s an ugly sort of phrase, aborted fetal cells, and it sticks. But vaccines don’t contain any “aborted fetal cells” any more than Flea-B-Gone contains parts of an ancestral, million-years old kangaroo.

Some (not most) vaccines rely on actual viruses for production. The viruses are “grown” on cell cultures, which are sort of like the kangaroos. The cell cultures themselves come from cells that were harvested in the 1960’s, sometimes from fetal tissue, and sometimes that tissue was obtained after an abortion. Those cell lines have been propagated for forty or fifty years, dividing and creating new cells, millions of generations of cells, in thousands of labs. Since these cell lines have been used for so many years, they’re dependable and well-known, and can be used to safely grow viruses. These same cultures are also used in medical and research labs all over the world. They are an indispensible tool that we take for granted, but we rely on them for medication development and biologic research every single day.

No vaccine contains any of these cells. They’re used to grow the viruses needed to test and develop vaccines, but they’re not in the vaccines. And: the cells themselves aren’t aborted tissue any more than a kangaroo is the same animal as an ancestral kangaroo that hopped around Australia millions of generations ago.

Current cell cultures are not aborted tissue. And even if they were, they’re not contained in vaccines anyway.

These are important decisions. Refusing to vaccinate your children is hurting children, families and communities. If parents knew the actual facts, they’d sleep easier, they’d vaccinate, and we’d all be healthier. Don’t buy the propagandists’ lies. Vaccinate.

PS. The Vatican responded to these concerns in 2005, in a statement created by then-Cardinal-Ratzinger, who became Pope Benedict. It’s fascinating reading. FWIW, the Vatican’s position is that every effort should be made to not use these cell lines, but that the “good” of vaccinations—to protect health—outweighs the original “evil” of how the tissues were obtained 50 years ago. So, until alternatives are available, families ought to vaccinate using these products. The statement did not directly address the issue of the kangaroos.

The Pediatric Insider (

Fact or Fiction: Overwhelming their immune system

Monday, November 25th, 2013 (last updated)

Fact or fiction

Some parents think that the number of vaccines on the recommended schedule is too many, too soon and could overwhelm an infant’s tiny body.

The truth is that your child’s immune system is stronger than you think. Their little bodies can “handle” a lot and can respond to multiple vaccines at once.

From the minute they are born, a child is exposed to hundreds, even thousands, of foreign particles in the form of fungi, bacteria and viruses. Babies’ immune systems are designed to protect them from these bacteria and viruses that challenge their immune system daily. Babies are capable of responding to these germs because they have the ability to make antibodies.

The vaccines given in the first two years of life are a raindrop in the ocean of what a baby’s immune system fends off everyday. 

In fact, your child is exposed to more antigens in her environment than to those in all her vaccinations combined. Experts know that a child’s immune system is well equipped to handle these antigens, or immune triggers, contained in multiple vaccines.

While your child’s immune system is strong enough and prepared to handle these daily challenges and the immune response triggered by vaccines, there is no telling what effect an infectious disease will have on their body. A child’s immune system is not strong enough to fight off infectious diseases like measles or meningitis, which is why we vaccinate at such a young age.

It’s true that the number of vaccines recommended for your child is much larger than the handful of vaccines you received as a child, but the quantity of vaccines available today increases the quality of protection.

Not only is your child receiving greater protection from more diseases, the vaccines in use today contain fewer antigens than vaccines used in past generations. That means that vaccines are better and safer than when you were a child. Vaccine safety has improved over time. Each vaccine added to the CDC recommended schedule will prevent unnecessary sickness, hospitalization, disability or death.

Moreover, it’s important to give vaccines on the CDC recommended schedule because it’s the best way to protect your child from disease and saves you time as a parent. And you should know that there is no increased risk of side effects by giving multiple vaccines.

Immunize for Good

What to do if you get invited to a chickenpox party? Don’t go.

Sunday, November 24th, 2013 (last updated)

A few weeks ago, I stumbled across the Facebook group “Chicken Pox Parties—New York Metro Area.” It has 143 members, all of whom, I’m guessing, are parents who have chosen not to vaccinate their kids against chickenpox and instead hope to build their kids’ immunity the old-fashioned way, by directly exposing them to the germs of a pox-infected child. They are not alone: Facebook has 14 other chickenpox party groups organized by geographical region, and if you can’t get to one in person, you can always ask to be sent a lollipop with an infected child’s spit on it.


Perhaps these parents go this route because they’re distrustful of the vaccine or they think that inoculating against chickenpox is dumb. For those of us who endured chickenpox as kids and emerged relatively unscathed, the varicella vaccine, as it’s called, does at first seem kind of dumb—another unnecessary medical intervention being thrust upon us and another box to check off on the never-ending paperwork that is raising a child. So should we say no to our pediatricians and bring a pox on all our houses instead?

After evaluating the medical evidence, my answer is an emphatic no. The shot is by far the better way to go. That’s because although we might recall chickenpox as a small but annoying blip on our childhood radar it can be dangerous. True, before the vaccine was licensed in 1995, only about 100 to 150 American kids died of chickenpox every year, and most of these children had underlying immune system issues. But every year, chickenpox landed about 11,000 kids in the hospital. It’s not that they couldn’t handle all the itching; one study from Europe (where many countries do not vaccinate against chickenpox) has found that one-fifth of all otherwise healthy kids who are hospitalized for chickenpox suffer neurological problems such as strokes, meningitis, convulsions, and encephalitis. Chickenpox can also cause septic shock, pneumonia, necrotizing fasciitis (that’s flesh-eating bacteria), and other bacterial infections.

Does the vaccine pose risks, too? Of course; every medical intervention does. But the risks associated with the vaccine are much lower than the risks associated with infection. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration monitor potential vaccine side effects using the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System. VAERS isn’t perfect. For one thing, it doesn’t record problems unless patients or their doctors report them. The complaints about the varicella vaccine that get recorded in VAERS aren’t always caused by the varicella vaccine, either. For instance, if a person falls ill soon after getting the shot, it’s possible that the timing is simply a coincidence—maybe the child was catching the flu anyway. Moreover, about half of VAERS complaints about the varicella vaccine describe problems people experience after receiving varicella along with other vaccinations, so it’s impossible to know which vaccine caused the reaction.

Even though the system is imperfect, the numbers suggest that the varicella vaccine is much safer than the infection. VAERS found that between 1995 and 2005, 0.052 percent of people who got the varicella vaccine—that’s 52 out of every 100,000 vaccinees—complained about complications, most of them minor. These included rash (17 out of 100,000), fever (11 out of 100,000), and pain at the injection site (seven out of 100,000). More rarely, the vaccine was associated with diarrhea (1.7 out of 100,000) and convulsions (1.8 out of 100,000 ). And yes, the vaccine was associated with 60 deaths during that decade (one out of every million doses), but most occurred in children who had serious congenital problems or immune-related deficiencies and who should never have gotten the vaccine in the first place. Ten of these deaths were categorized as “crib deaths”—basically, SIDS—so it’s impossible to know whether the vaccine caused them.

There are other reasons to give your child the vaccine, too. As more and more kids get vaccinated against varicella, the chances of planning a successful pox party drop: There are simply far fewer kids out there getting—and transmitting—chickenpox. You’ll have to work on that invite list a long time before you find your “patient zero.” And the longer it takes an unvaccinated child to catch the infection, the more dangerous that infection becomes, because more severe cases of chickenpox tend to occur in older kids.


Influenza vs. common cold: What’s the difference?

Saturday, November 23rd, 2013 (last updated)

It just so happens that North America’s “flu season” coincides pretty closely with our “common cold” season. Understandably, a lot of people have a tough time realizing which is which. Some people even think that their flu shot gives them a runny nose, but they are actually just going through a common cold around the same time they get their flu shot. If you’re really worried about possibly having the flu, look for a few telltale signs we mention here. We hope you all stay healthy this winter and protect yourselves with the flu vaccine!

Bustamante Pediatrics

Outbreak of measles in Wales – report published

Friday, November 22nd, 2013 (last updated)

A report on the measles outbreak centred on Swansea has been published with 13 recommendations designed to stop further spread of the disease.

Between November 2012 and July 2013, a total of 1,202 cases of measles were reported in the outbreak, the largest seen in Wales since the introduction of the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine. Of these, 88 people were admitted to hospital and one 25 year old man died.

The report details how the outbreak unfolded and was brought to an end. It provides information of Public Health Wales laboratory testing showing that there were in fact four different outbreaks, based on four strains of the infection circulating at the same time.

It warns that, while 30,000 people between the ages of 10 and 18 remain unvaccinated in Wales, there is still the chance of further outbreaks.

It has been produced jointly with the three health boards who worked closely with Public Health Wales to control the outbreak – Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board, Hywel Dda Health Board and Powys teaching Health Board.

The report calls for the elimination of measles in Wales through “a policy of aggressive control of measles cases imported into or transmitted within Wales.”

In particular, it says that “assertive efforts should be made to target” teenagers. It recommends that the Welsh Government should commission a review looking at the issue of teenagers not being immunised, reviewing scientific evidence for what works and identifying areas for further research, if needed.

Dr Sara Hayes, Director of Public Health for ABMU Health Board, said: “I’d like to thank all those who helped bring the outbreak to an end – health board and local authority staff, head teachers, journalists, parents and the public.

“I urge the young people who did not take the vaccine to contact their doctor.  It’s never too late and the outbreak has proved just how safe and effective it is.

“We are currently responding to a further outbreak of measles in the Neath area with 36 cases to date. This shows that, despite the large outbreak being over, measles is still a very real problem in Wales.”

measles Click here

Public Health Wales

The importance of vaccination: parent’s testimony, by Danny Darche

Thursday, November 21st, 2013 (last updated)

Danny Darche, the father of Lore, was invited to the European Parliament to give a short lecture.

VacciNewsNet was impressed by the presentation.

You find the speech and the slides here:

The importance of vaccination: parent’s testimony, by Danny Darche Click here for the speech

The importance of vaccination: parent’s testimony, by Danny Darche Click here for the slides