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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 26, 2004

Gov. Blagojevich’s Search for Flu Vaccine Nets Up to 200,000 More Doses of Aventis Flu Vaccine From Europe
Illinois Awaits FDA Approval to Ship and Use the Nearly 300,000 Flu Shots the State Has Located Through Its I-SaveRx Contacts in Europe

Governor will share excess vaccine to meet critical needs in other states

CHICAGO – Gov. Rod Blagojevich this morning announced that his administration has located and placed an order to purchase an additional 200,000 doses of the Aventis flu vaccine from wholesalers in Europe; 80,000 doses have been guaranteed and 120,000 more is expected to be available.  On Monday, the Governor announced that Illinois had procured between 62,000 and 87,000 doses of the vaccine through a British wholesaler and had asked the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for fast approval to ship and use the shots for the state’s most at-risk senior citizens and young children.  With today’s announcement, Illinois is poised to purchase nearly 300,000 doses of European-made flu vaccine to address this year’s severe shortage.
 
“Flu season is just around the corner.  We need the FDA to work with us immediately to make sure we can get flu shots to the people in Illinois who need them right away,” said Blagojevich.  “We reached out to Commissioner Crawford at the FDA yesterday, and haven’t heard back from him yet.  I’m hopeful that we can meet to answer their questions and do what we need to do to win their approval as quickly as possible.”
 
With the vaccine secured today, Illinois would have enough vaccine to make up the anticipated shortfall of at least 150,000 doses for at-risk residents in nursing homes and hospitals.  The next priority tier, as defined by the Center for Disease Control, would be senior citizens not living in nursing care facilities, children between the ages of 6 to 23 months, and others with chronic conditions.
 
The Governor reiterated today that any vaccine above what Illinois requires to meet its most critical cases would be offered to other states.  He said the State’s public health officials will work with the CDC to help distribute additional doses immediately to senior citizens, young children and the chronically ill in other states.  The Governor requested that the CDC first provide the excess vaccinations to Wisconsin, which is participating in I-Save Rx.
 
The United States is facing a severe flu vaccine shortage as a result of problems found with doses produced by Chiron Corp., a manufacturer that was expected to produce nearly half of the 100 million doses needed for U.S. residents.  Now the United States has only the 55 million doses of vaccine manufactured by its other supplier – the French drugmaker Aventis Pasteur – to meet its entire demand.
 
The FDA announced recently that it has asked Aventis Pasteur to manufacture an additional 2.6 million doses of vaccines to address shortages across the United States, the new shots are not expected to be ready until January. Flu season in Illinois lasts from November to April, peaking in January and February.  State health officials encourage the elderly and young children to get vaccinated early in the winter to allow the vaccine at least two weeks to become effective before peak season.
 
The vaccine Gov. Blagojevich is seeking permission to use was manufactured by Aventis in its facility in Lyon, France, for use in Canada and Europe.  The vaccine is already packaged and can be shipped to Illinois and put to use within days – in enough time to reduce the impact of the flu virus this winter in hundreds of thousands of sick, elderly and young individuals.
 
Gov. Blagojevich was able to quickly find the European vaccine using the state’s contacts with prescription drug suppliers in Europe who are providing medications for Illinois residents through the new I-SaveRx program.  Blagojevich and Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle launched I-SaveRx to help the nearly 13 million residents of Illinois and more than 5 million residents of Wisconsin save 25 to 50 percent on the cost of their prescription drugs.  Illinois and Wisconsin residents can enroll in I-Save Rx by calling 1-866-ISAVE33 or visiting www.I-SaveRx.net.


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