Shot in the Arm?

This is a partial transcript from Your World with Neil Cavuto, December 11, 2003, that was edited for clarity.

Watch Your World w/Cavuto weekdays at 4 p.m. and 1 a.m. ET.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: My next guest is not worried about a shortage of the flu vaccine. His company developed FluMist, the first flu vaccine that you can spray in your nose, approved for adults as an alternative to needles, but not for kids or seniors.

With now from Washington is Dr. Jim Young. Dr. Young is MedImmune president of research and development.

Doctor, thank you for joining us.

DR. JIM YOUNG, MEDIMMUNE (MEDI): Good afternoon, Neil. Great to be here with you.

CAVUTO: Is they’re enough of this stuff to go around?

YOUNG: Well, we have this year made about four to five million doses of the vaccine. There is probably a little over three million doses still available. We are trying to get another 400,0000 to 500,000 doses released to make available to the public.

CAVUTO: Now, Doctor, this is $46 per dose, significantly higher than traditional needles, right?

YOUNG: It is. And, in fact, you know, I think the price really reflects the fact that this is really a major advance in flu immunization. This is the first new flu vaccine in 50 years. And it’s extremely safe, extremely effective in protecting children and adults against the flu virus.

But earlier in November, we induced a rebate program to reduce the price to make the vaccine available to more people. You can actually get a rebate of $25 on the vaccine, bringing the cost down to $21.

CAVUTO: All right. Now, again, we are showing kids here getting the flu shots. But the fact of the matter is, they cannot partake of FluMist, right? Why is that, by the way?

YOUNG: Well, kids below five can’t partake. But clearly, kids from five to 18 can. And that’s a very important segment of the marketplace that needs to get immunized.

CAVUTO: It’s interesting, Doctor. You are looking at your company’s stock of late. There’s been high, heavy volume in it. A great deal of interest in it because you appear -- at least your company -- to be the only one who can provide vaccines for people whatever the expense.

Do you think that this is just a short-term phenomenon, though? That the hysteria over a lack of flu vaccine is much ado about nothing?

YOUNG: Well, you know, frankly, I hate to say this, but it is unfortunate that it takes an epidemic like this, with this new Fujian strain, to cause such a whirlwind of information out there. But flu is a problem every year. You know, people get worried about 800 cases of SARS last year. There are 30,000 to 50,000 people who die every year in the United States due to flu.

CAVUTO: But this particular serious strain we have this year, that was claiming the lives of a lot of kids in Colorado and a couple on the East coast, how unusual is that?

YOUNG: You know, I’m not sure it is that unusual. You know, every six to seven years we may see a very virulent strain that’s not matched well to the injected vaccine. But, typically, there are a lot of people who end up in the hospital and die from flu every year.

CAVUTO: Do you think this gets worse now, or is it stabilizing?

YOUNG: If the disease gets worse?

CAVUTO: Right.

YOUNG: You know, it’s hard to predict. It is highly variable every year.

Normally, flu up epidemics peak in the January-February timeframe. This is very early and unusual for a flu epidemic. But you never know.

It could continue, it could shut off. You could see a second wave with a different strain. So, you know, you can’t let down your guard with this virus.

CAVUTO: All right. Dr. Jim Young, of MedImmune, thank you very much. We appreciate it.

YOUNG: My pleasure.

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