GSK's adjuvanted vax beats Baxter shot

In a head-to-head trial of swine flu vaccines, GlaxoSmithKline's (NYSE: GSK) adjuvanted shot outperformed the traditional version from Baxter (NYSE: BAX). Children given GSK's Pandemrix--which contained an adjuvant known as AS03--developed a stronger immune response that those who received Baxter's Celvapan.

The difference was most pronounced in children ages 3 years and younger, a group that hasn't responded strongly to flu shots in the past, though they are among the patients at high risk for complications from the illness, experts say.

Pandemrix was associated with more reactions than Baxter's shot. But those reactions were mild--fevers and irritation at the injection site. "Most children receiving either vaccine had no more than minor reactions, and this study provides reassuring evidence that both vaccines were well tolerated and likely to provide good protection against swine flu," Matthew Snape, a member of the Oxford Vaccine Group, tells Bloomberg.

GSK's adjuvanted H1N1 flu vaccine wasn't used in the U.S., where the shot boosters aren't approved for influenza. It was, however, the preferred vaccine in the U.K. and sold all over Europe. Snape tells Reuters that this latest study may push the U.S. toward adjuvant use. "It may be that even for seasonal flu vaccines we should be looking at adjuvants such as AS03," Snape tells the news service.

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