Improving the evaluation of Flu Vaccines

Collaboration has resulted in the development of a new way to understand the intensity and impact of the flu

Professor Richard Osborne
Professor Richard Osborne

The development of new vaccines and drugs to combat the flu could be accelerated thanks to a new testing system.

Collaboration between MSD and Deakin University’s professor of public health, Richard Osborne, has resulted in the development of a new way to understand the intensity and impact of the flu that will enable scientists to better assess if new treatments work.

The development and testing of vaccines and drugs designed to reduce the severity and impact of patients' flu symptoms requires people to report how they are feeling and for improvements in their health to be tracked during the course of their illness.  It is important that the benefits of any new treatments and vaccines, as reported by the patient, are captured in a way that meets regulatory guidelines.  Shortcomings in existing tools to assess how patients are tracking in clinical trials can cause delays in getting new treatments to the market.

"Through rigorous questionnaire development and validation methods involving extensive consultation with flu patients and physicians who treat patients with flu has resulted in our development of a new questionnaire (FluiiQ) which will more accurately measure the intensity and impact of the influenza infection" states MSD Epidemiologist Swati Gupta.

The FluiiQ is the first in this field to attempt to fulfill the strict requirements set by major regulatory bodies such as the US Food and Drug Administration.

“Companies are making large investments over many years to find a vaccine or treatment for the flu. If they cannot appropriately measure the efficacy of their potential new agents in clinical trials, then important drugs or vaccines may not move forward in development,” Deakin University's Professor Richard Osborne said. "However, with more precise measures, smaller patient sample sizes are needed in clinical trials to assess efficacy which in turn allows for earlier and clearer decisions on new vaccines and treatments.  Therefore, we believe the new questionnaire will help scientists to develop new agents more quickly and thus contribute to reducing the number of people who succumb to the illness each year.” Professor Osborne said.

This will be discussed in Value in Health, the official journal of the International Society for Pharmacoeconomics and outcomes Research.

Value in Health(ISSN 1098-3015) publishes papers, concepts, and ideas that advance the field of pharmacoeconomics and outcomes research and help health care leaders to make decisions that are solidly evidence-based.  The journal is published bi-monthly and has a regular readership of over 5,000 clinicians, decision-makers, and researchers worldwide.

ISPOR is a nonprofit, international organization that strives to translate pharmacoeconomics and outcomes research into practice to ensure that society allocates scarce health care resources wisely, fairly, and efficiently.

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