Categories: world

Drug manufacturers scrambling to increase the supply of new shingles vaccine so many in Massachusetts wait

Susan Grosdov's doctor recommended in August that she gets a shot of Shingrix – a powerful new vaccine that can…

Susan Grosdov’s doctor recommended in August that she gets a shot of Shingrix – a powerful new vaccine that can prevent pain, rash and general misery of shingles.

The only problem? There was no one in stock. So Grosdov, 66, a retired Harvard Medical School administrator, returned in November, but the vaccine was still unavailable. She tried two pharmacies near her Saugus home &#821

1; an advertisement “shingles vaccine” – but they both expected them to be delivered.

“It is inexplicable,” Grosdov said. “Everyone markets the new vaccine. And then when you go to get it, it’s not there.”

So many people cling to Shingrix that drug manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline can not follow the demand. Although the company says it is premature to do as soon as possible, the backup has left the vaccine seekers frustrated, with many waiting for their medical offices and pharmacies in Massachusetts and across the country to get assets.

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They wonder if it may be that Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone, recently diagnosed with shingles, spent Thanksgiving in Cambridge Hospital with “throbbing, severe pain,” partial facial lame and a swollen ear that “looked like a cauliflower “.

Curtatone, 52, who has been in and out of the hospital twice in recent weeks, is now on his way – and he has become an evangelist for the new vaccine introduced at the end of last year and is considered to be more than 90 percent effective to prevent shingles. The debilitating virus infection affects approximately 1 million mostly older Americans annually with blistering rashes and pain that can last for several months.

“I have convinced about a dozen people so far to go out and get the vaccine,” said Curtatone. 19659002] But it could be easier said than done. Strike on complaints and criticism, GlaxoSmithKline, the British drug giant, distorts to increase Shingrix production, partly by relieving some work on its other non-full-capacity, non-full-line production lines.

As of this month, the company will increase its deliveries of the vaccine – given in two doses, two to six months apart – twice a month, said spokesman Sean Clements. He said that nearly 7 million doses of Shingrix had been administered worldwide in late September, mostly in the United States, but the company is working to pick up the rate next year.

“We realize that this is a challenge, and we” respond to getting the vaccine out there, “Clements said.” By 2019, we will get significantly more doses than we did in 2018. “

The company blindsided of the high demand for Shingrix, approved by the Food and Drug Administration in October 2017. Demand spiked shortly after FDA approval when Centers for Disease Control recommended it to healthy adults aged 50 years and over.

This recommendation led to broad insurance coverage of the private health vaccine and Medicare, the Federal Health Insurance Program for Older Americans. In clinical trials, Shingrix showed more effective and prolonged than a previous shingles vaccine and the two doses are expected to be sufficient to protect people for the rest of their lives.

Clements said that it takes six to nine months to produce a vaccine kit containing hundreds of thousands of doses. Various components – incl. usive an antigen that induces an immune response and an immune system called adjuvant – manufactured in several plants in the United States and Europe. While the drug manufacturer started producing some Shingrix components even before the vaccine was approved by US regulatory authorities, it had predicted demand based on the uptake of the earlier shingles vaccine recommended for adults over 60 years.

Doctors now suggest that their patients receive the Shingrix vaccine even if they received the previous vaccine, whose effectiveness increases over time. While the second Shingrix dose is recommended given two to six months after the first doctor says that the vaccine will likely be effective if people stop receiving the second injection a little later.

If one in three Americans is at risk of developing shingles in some way, CDC estimates; For adults over 85 years, chances are one of two. The infection is triggered by reactivation of the same virus that causes chickenpox in children. And while the symptoms and severity may vary, many elderly people are careful to order the pain of shingles and worry about nerve and eye damage that sometimes follow the infection.

“Many people know shingles, and they do not want to get it themselves,” says Dr. Paul Sax, Clinical Director of the Infection Control Unit at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “People who do not like getting vaccines have been quite willing to get this.”

While some medical offices have ordered Shingrix, about 70 percent of injections in the US have been administered in pharmacies such as CVS or Walgreens. CVS has 376 independent pharmacies in Massachusetts and another 40 in target stores, but from 1 December the vaccine was available in only 200 of their places, according to CVS spokesman Amy Lanctot.

Other pharmacies are dealing with similar shortcomings in the supply. Ted Kaplan, who teaches food and statistics at Bentley University and Babson College, said he waited for several months but finally received his first Shingrix injection last week at a Walgreens in Newton.

“They had a dose with my name on it, and I took it,” he said. “I wanted to be sure I was protected.”

Ann Deluty, 74, a self-employed person who helps homeowners and small businesses to clear disruption, was sorry to find Shingrix at an Osco pharmacy housed in a Shaw supermarket near her home in Stow. “I’m lucky that Stow is out in the middle of nowhere, so there was not much demand,” she said. “I feel I had a rare purchase at Chardonnay.”

Retired economist Jeff Temple, 75, in Hanover was not so happy. He and his wife, Rita, 74, got their first shot on a CVS this fall. But they could not get their second last week. “They said they were sold out, and we should come back in January,” said Temple.

GlaxoSmithKline has posted a “vaccine finder” on the website. But the company acknowledges that because demand is so fast, the lists are not always current.

Training of friends and constituents on the risks of shingles and the weight of the vaccine has become “a point of contact for me” Curtatone, Somerville mayor, who works mostly from home during his recovery. He drew a particularly virulent fall of the virus called Ramsay Hunt syndrome, which may be paralysis on one side of the face. The mayor, who is on pain medication, said he would need occupational therapy to regain his facial movement.

When his former chief of staff suffered shingles a few years ago, Curtatone reminded him that he and his deputies were sympathetic – but they did not follow her warning.

“She told us to get the vaccine [earlier] and we all ignored her,” said Curtatone. “Now I have a better appreciation for the pain she and others have gone through.”

Robert Weisman can be reached at Robert. [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @GlobeRobW .

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