Magazine article Drug Topics

First Hepatitis A Vaccine Targets High-Risk Patients

Magazine article Drug Topics

First Hepatitis A Vaccine Targets High-Risk Patients

Article excerpt

Havrix (hepatitis A vaccine, inactivated) has been granted approval by the Food & Drug' Administration, making it the first vaccine available to prevent hepatitis A in adults and children over 2 years of age.

According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, hepatitis A, a viral infection that attacks the liver, affects an estimated 143,000 Americans each year. Patients with acute illness usually present with debilitating flu-like symptoms such as fever, nausea, diarrhea, muscle weakness, and jaundice. No effective treatment is available, and patients generally rely on rest and nutritional support to aid them in recovery.

For most patients, symptoms abate within one month, but, according to Raymond S. Koff, M.D., chairman of the department of medicine and chief of the hepatology section of MetroWest Medical Center in Framingham, Mass., extensive liver damage requiring liver transplantation is not uncommon. In about 1% of adult patients, the disease is fatal.

Koff said that, initially, the target group for hepatitis A vaccine will be high-risk populations such as travelers to endemic areas such as Mexico; food handlers who could transmit the disease to a large population; and persons at risk of occupational exposure, such as day care workers. …

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