New Flu Vaccines Cover More Strains, Yield More Profits

Kim LaCapria

In 2013, new flu vaccines will offer protection against an additional strain of influenza -- at a cost.

The new flu vaccines for the coming flu season are available, with many lining up ahead of the peak flu months to get vaccinated. But this flu season, the new vaccine protects not only against the standard three strains but a fourth possible flu variant.

Dr. Amy Person of the Benton Franklin Health District in Washington says the new flu vaccines are more comprehensive and offer better chances against the flu this season.

Person explains:

"Since the new quadrivalent flu vaccine will protect against one extra strain, it's more likely that we'll be able to fight against the actual active strain of flu this year."

It's not just patients that stand to benefit from new flu vaccines this flu season. Reuters reports that drug makers are also upbeat about the profits from flu vaccinations in coming months:

"Contracts struck with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirm a hefty price jump for the new four-strain flu vaccine, with GSK's quadrivalent Fluarix, for example, costing $12.03 per dose against $8.08 for the standard version, according to the agency's website... Those price premiums may feed through to higher revenues and accelerated growth in a global flu vaccine market that research group Datamonitor Healthcare estimates at around $3.7 billion a year."

While the new flu vaccines are out there, doctors say we don't yet know how much more effective four-strain protection is over three-strain shots of the past. Many advise opting for the quarivalent flu vaccine if available and covered by insurance but add that the traditional flu vaccine is fine for most patients.