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GlaxoSmithKline launches free vaccine program

Mon, 03/29/2010 - 8:17am
The Associated Press

British drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline PLC said Monday it is launching a program in the U.S. to provide free vaccines to adults who don't have health insurance.

GlaxoSmithKline said the program will cover low-income adults who meet eligibility requirements. The free vaccines include shots for hepatitis A and B, tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough. The company's cervical cancer vaccine Cervarix also will be included for women between the ages of 19 and 25.

"Vaccines are one of the most effective ways we can prevent and fight disease, and subsequently, help drive down the cost of healthcare in the United States," said Deirdre Connelly, Glaxo's President for North America pharmaceuticals. "Unfortunately, vaccines are severely under-utilized by American adults."

In the U.S., children up through age 18 are eligible to receive free vaccines under a separate federally-funded entitlement program called Vaccines for Children, once a vaccine is approved by the FDA and recommended by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP).

However, a similar program does not exist for adults, and gaps in coverage, coupled with a lack of routine doctor visits, have led to lower immunization rates among Americans over the age of 18, Glaxo said.

The GSK Vaccine Access program is open to adults ages 19 and up whose income totals no more than $27,075 for a single person or $36,425 for a couple. Those totals are 250 percent of the federal poverty level.

In midday trading, GlaxoSmithKline shares rose 19 cents to $38.21.

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