AstraZeneca writes off $80 million after US authorities say nasal flu vaccine ineffective
- AstraZeneca on Thursday said it would write down the inventory value of its flu vaccine FluMist Quadrivalent by $80 million, after an advisory panel for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended the vaccine should not be used for the coming flu season.
- The panel cited data from the last three flu seasons which showed the vaccine did not demonstrate statistically significant effectiveness for children and teens. As FluMist is administered as a nasal spray rather than an injection, the vaccine is commonly used with children.
- AstraZeneca objected to the CDC effectiveness data, saying it contrasted with studies done by the company along with preliminary findings from public health authorities in other countries.
FluMist was approved for use in the U.S. back in 2003 and AstraZeneca claims more than 116 million doses have been distributed around the world.
But the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices found FluMist didn't work in children over the past three years, leading it to recommend discontinuing use of the vaccine for the 2016-2017 flu season.
AstraZeneca's own data show FluMist was between 46% and 58% effective against circulating influenza strains last year, within the CDC's bounds for typical efficacy.
"AstraZeneca is working with the CDC to better understand its data to help ensure eligible patients continue to receive the vaccine in future seasons in the U.S.," the company said in a statement.
The decision by the panel will result in a financial hit for the British drugmaker. Last year, U.S. sales of FluMist totaled $206 million, and the company now expects "very limited demand in the second half of 2016."
With lower expected demand, AstraZeneca will take an $80 million write-down charge to inventory value.
While AstraZeneca intends to continue distribution of the vaccine in other countries, the U.S. market accounted for over 70% of FluMist sales last year.
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