Flu vaccine efficacy problems prompt switch in U.K. to Seqirus' Fluad for over-75s

Seqirus' Fluad is set for U.K. use in people 75 and older next flu season.

Decades after approvals elsewhere, Seqirus' adjuvanted flu vaccine Fluad is finally set for routine use in the U.K. because the current shot isn't working for the elderly. 

Following an official finding that the current vaccine didn't work for people 65 and older last year, NHS England is prepping a switch for the next flu season. Under the transition, people 75 and older will get first access to the new vaccine.

Seqirus' Fluad was first approved in Italy in 1997 and is now licensed in 38 countries but only recently received its U.K. approval. The U.S. approved the shot under the FDA's accelerated approval program in late 2015. In a statement to FiercePharma, Richard Pebody, Ph.D., acting head of the respiratory diseases department at Public Health England (PHE), said a committee concluded Fluad is "is likely to be cost effective and better at preventing flu in adults over 65 years of age." A PHE spokesperson said the government currently uses a range of trivalent and quadrivalent options for seasonal flu vaccines.

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"The committee agreed that over 75s, who generally benefit less from current vaccines, should be considered a priority for receiving the adjuvanted vaccine in 2018/19," Pebody added.

RELATED: FDA approves Seqirus' Fluad, the first U.S. adjuvanted flu vaccine 

Novartis previously marketed the vaccine but exited the flu vaccine business in 2015 with its $275 million unit sale to Australia's CSL. CSL then combined the unit with its own bioCSL to form the world's No. 2 flu vaccine player in Seqirus.

The decision in the U.K. comes amid a potentially troublesome flu season and after PHE found that current vaccine options didn't provide any protection last year for people older than 65. 

In the U.S., people aged 65 and older account for a disproportionate number of flu-related hospitalizations and deaths, the CDC has reported. In order to combat an age-related decline in immunity, vaccine companies have looked to adjuvants to boost responses. 

The transition also comes as Seqirus boosts its manufacturing presence in the U.K. Last year, the company announced a $52 million Liverpool manufacturing investment that will allow it to add 100 workers and build a fill-finish facility on site. Sanofi, GlaxoSmithKline and AstraZeneca also make flu vaccines, although AstraZeneca's nasal option FluMist has experienced efficacy issues in the U.S. for the last two seasons.