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FDA Expert: Universal Flu Vaccine Still 5-10 Years Off


FDA expert: Universal flu vaccine still 5-10 years off
CIDRAP NEWS: Robert Roos, News Editor

Feb 13, 2013 (CIDRAP News) – Top federal health officials who testified on Capitol Hill today said the nation has much better influenza defenses today than it had 10 years ago, but one of them predicted that a "universal" flu vaccine is probably still 5 to 10 years away.

Officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) pointed to increases in flu vaccine production capacity and newly approved flu vaccines as signs of progress, but they also made clear that the goal of a vaccine offering broader, longer-lasting protection is still distant.

The hearing before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations focused on the current flu season and flu preparedness generally. The panel heard from CDC Director Thomas Frieden, MD, MPH, FDA Chief Scientist Jesse Goodman, MD, MPH, and Marcia Crosse, PhD, healthcare director for the Government Accountability Office (GAO). The session was webcast.

The hearing also featured some questions about the potential effects of the "sequester" budget cuts scheduled to hit in March. Frieden and Goodman vowed that their agencies will do the best they can but gave no specifics on how the cuts will be handled.

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