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New Research Advances Vaccination Strategies

MSD: New Research Advances Vaccination Strategies For Disease Erradication

Vaccines are said to be among the miracles of modern science. New research discussed today by experts at an MSD-sponsored symposium at the Second World Congress of Pediatric Infectious Diseases (WCPIDS), suggests additional strategies are needed to prevent 6 deadly diseases through immunization.

In a new study of the 25-year safety and efficacy of MSD's trivalent vaccine against measles, mumps, and rubella, M-M-R(R)II, David Nalin, MD, F.A.C.P., Director of Vaccine Scientific Affairs, Merck & Co., Inc., West Point, PA, USA, reported that in countries in which an MSD trivalent vaccine was used exclusively, there has been an almost 100% reduction in measles, mumps and rubella. "With more than 214 million doses distributed during the same 25-year period, the safety record of M-M-R(R)II is highly satisfactory, Dr. Nalin said. Specifically, he mentioned the absence of vaccine- induced meningitis observed in individuals immunized with a vaccine containing a mumps vaccine strain other than the Jeryl Lynn(TM) mumps vaccine strain. In summary, Dr. Nalin reported the vaccine- related reduction in disease and death from disease has been well established over many years while adverse experiences have remained rare.

David J. West, Ph.D, MPH, Consultant, Vaccine Development and Evaluation, North Wales, PA, USA, reported on the advantages of incorporating MSD's COMVAX(TM), a two component vaccine against Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) and hepatitis B, into strategies to meet World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations for immunizations. In places where Hib vaccines are not widely used, Hib disease is often a leading cause of bacterial meningitis, a potentially deadly inflammation of the brain. Complications of Hib disease may include hearing loss, mental retardation, pneumonia, and sepsis. Hepatitis B viral infections may result in jaundice, cirrhosis of the liver, and liver cancer. The WHO recommends routine immunization of infants with hepatitis B vaccine and has urged countries to consider routine immunization of infants with Hib vaccine in accordance with national capacities and priorities.

COMVAX(TM) can effectively immunize against both Hib and hepatitis B with fewer injections: 3 injections for a series of COMVAX(TM) compared to the 6 to 7 injections needed using the same single-antigen vaccines. In clinical trials, COMVAX(TM) was shown to be effective in schedules that included oral polio, inactivated (injectable) polio vaccine, measles-mumps-rubella combination vaccine, varicella (chicken pox) vaccine, and DTP (or diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis combination vaccines). Additionally, infants can be effectively immunized with COMVAX(TM) in schedules using any of several available DTP or acellular DTP vaccines.

Commenting on how new insights on the epidemiology of vaccine- preventable diseases reveals better strategies for prevention, Dr. Jay Lieberman, F.A.A.P., Chief, Pediatric Infectious Diseases, Miller Children's Hospital, Long Beach, California, and Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of California at Irvine, California, USA, discussed specific research on hepatitis A control. Effective vaccines against hepatitis A, a disease that causes jaundice, fever, liver inflammation and intestinal symptoms, have been available for a number of years, said Dr. Lieberman. The epidemiology of hepatitis A infections however, suggests that uneven immunization coverage does not have a substantial impact on the incidence of disease within a geography. It may be time, he said, for endemic countries to consider strategies that have been recently introduced in the US, where new recommendations call for routine hepatitis A vaccination in children over two years of age in states with a high incidence of disease.

New vaccines in the research pipeline target meningococcal C and pediatric pneumococcal disease. Building on the success of Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) vaccination programs as they are implemented worldwide, Dr. Lieberman said, there is hope that bacterial meningitis in general may also someday become a vaccine- preventable disease.

Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE: MRK), known as MSD outside of the US, is a global, research-driven pharmaceutical company with a commitment to preventive health care through the discovery, development, and distribution of highly effective vaccines with strong safety profiles.

ENDS....

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