The U.S. childhood immunization schedule is overwhelmingly made up of injectables. Yet in among the vaccines for measles, mumps and other diseases are two orally delivered products--GlaxoSmithKline's and Merck's rotavirus vaccines. The rarity of oral vaccines means providers have less experience delivering them, but does this mean there are more errors?
Merck's rotavirus vaccine RotaTeq has faced close scrutiny since winning FDA approval in 2006, with authorities monitoring whether it shares side effects with a similar Wyeth product that was pulled from the market. Now a FDA-funded study has shown RotaTeq is linked to the side effect, but the benefits outweigh the risks.
A U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention team has found a significant decrease in the number of rotavirus-related hospitalizations with routine use of GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) and Merck's ($MRK) rotavirus vaccines in older age groups.
Norovirus has replaced rotavirus as the most common cause of acute infectious gastroenteritis in children in the U.S., a testament to the success of GlaxoSmithKline and Merck vaccines in stopping the spread of rotavirus. Development of a shot for norovirus is lagging behind, though.
Having committed to offering its rotavirus vaccine--Rotavac--for $1 a dose in 2011, Indian vaccine manufacturer Bharat Biotech has now presented positive Phase III data that compares favorably to currently available rotavirus vaccines.
British health officials selected GlaxoSmithKline's Rotarix vaccine for the country's first routine rotavirus immunization program.
About 700,000 children in the Philippines will receive a rotavirus vaccination, thanks to a national immunization program for children.
Rwanda's government has launched a national rotavirus vaccination program using Merck's RotaTeq oral rotavirus vaccine. The program will include all infants in the country, meaning that over 100,000 children will get the vaccine before the end of 2012.
The deal cuts the price for the vaccines 67 percent and means vaccines for 70 million children in the world's 40 poorest countries by 2016.
A new oral vaccine from Australia could help to cut deaths from rotavirus infections, in the developing as well as the developed world.