AstraZeneca’s FluMist has missed two flu seasons in the U.S. due to efficacy problems, and now a group of pediatric experts have recommended injected vaccines over the nasal option for the upcoming season.
The recommendation from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) comes after CDC officials this year endorsed AstraZeneca's nasal vaccine for this year's flu season. For its part, AAP said injected flu shots from GlaxoSmithKline, Sanofi Pasteur and Seqirus should be used over the AZ vaccine.
Still, the academy said FluMist is appropriate if a child refuses a shot or if a doctor’s office runs out of injected vaccines. All children six months and older should get a flu vaccine as soon as possible, according to the group. AAP published its recommendations for the upcoming season on Monday.
As the academy noted, FluMist didn't work as well as shots against the A/H1N1 flu strain during the 2013-14 and 2015-16 flu seasons, and the CDC recommended against its use in the U.S. during the last two seasons.
In response, AstraZeneca tweaked its vaccine and won the CDC’s backing. Still, AAP says the effectiveness of the latest version remains an unknown against the strain.
An AZ spokeswoman said the company believes its vaccine "continues to provide an important option for flu vaccination in the US and we respect the role of the CDC, ACIP and AAP in protecting and advancing public health."
"We encourage patients to speak with their healthcare providers to determine the influenza vaccination option that’s right for them or their families," she added.
AstraZeneca reported $288 million in FluMist sales in 2015, before CDC experts recommended against the nasal option the following year due to low efficacy. As the problem persisted in 2017, the agency once again recommended against using the vaccine. AstraZeneca recorded $104 million in FluMist sales in 2016 and $78 million last year.
In recent weeks, GlaxoSmithKline, Sanofi and Seqirus have reported they have started shipping flu vaccine doses for the upcoming season.