U.S. plots big anti-flu push this autumn

The U.S. government is gearing up for a big-time surge in swine flu this fall, with plans for a government-funded vaccination campaign as well as massive public-health mobilization. Yesterday, the Centers for Disease Control convened a pandemic summit, discussing strategies such as school closures, telecommuting, hospital preparation and, of course, an aggressive push on vaccines.

Officials said that they're allocating up to $8.5 billion for the vaccines, which will have to be administered in a tiered fashion as doses become available. First in line: Schoolkids and healthcare workers, plus people at extra risk of complications, such as pregnant women and asthmatics. To get the vaccines to market, drugmakers and the government will have to work hand in hand; already the feds have set aside $1 billion for trials and for production of ingredients for the shots. In the vaccine hunt are several drugmakers, including Sanofi-Aventis, GlaxoSmithKline and Novartis.

Meanwhile, the CDC is eyeing potential H1N1 resistance to Tamiflu. A handful of resistant cases have emerged, but so far resistance doesn't appear to be widespread. Plus, as it becomes apparent that obese patients are at greater risk of complications, Roche is analyzing its Tamiflu studies to see whether heavier people should get higher doses of the drug.

- see the New York Times story
- get more from the Wall Street Journal
- read the Bloomberg story

ALSO: India's Cadila Pharmaceuticals inked a joint venture with U.S-based Novavax on a new manufacturing facility to make vaccines including new shots against swine flu. Report

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