News in Brief: Week of July 11-15

July 13, 2011 05:35 pm News Staff

This roundup includes the following news briefs:

Boostrix Now Approved for Use in Adults 65 and Older

The FDA has approved a request( by pharmaceutical manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline, or GSK, to further supplement its biologics license application for the drugmaker's tetanus, diphtheria and acellular pertussis, or Tdap, vaccine to include adults 65 and older.

The vaccine, which is marketed as Boostrix, initially was approved in 2005 as a single booster dose for people ages 10-18 years. In 2009, the agency approved GSK's application to expand use of the drug as a booster for adults ages 19-64.

The CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices and the AAFP make the following recommendations regarding Tdap vaccine:

  • Administer a one-time dose of Tdap to adults younger than 65 who have not received Tdap previously, or for whom vaccine status is unknown, to replace one of the recommended 10-year tetanus and diphtheria toxoids boosters.
  • Adults 65 and older who previously have not received Tdap and who have close contact with an infant younger than age 12 months also should receive a one-time dose of the vaccine.
  • Other adults 65 and older may receive one Tdap booster dose.
  • Tdap may be administered regardless of interval since administration of the most recent tetanus- or diphtheria-containing vaccine.

Further information on Boostrix( is available online.

Mayo Clinic Online 'Community' Links Patients to Support, Information

The Mayo Clinic recently launched a social network to connect its global Mayo Clinic community and provide a place for patients to share information, support and understanding. A July 5 blog post( describes the community as a means of "connecting people who have been through the Mayo Clinic experience with others facing a similar health concern."

Joining the Mayo Clinic online community(
is free and open to everyone regardless of whether a person has ever been a patient at the clinic. Users browsing the community( can participate in discussion forums with people who have similar medical problems, read content from Mayo Clinic blogs, watch health and medical videos, and explore links to news articles about research and treatment advances.

HHS Issues Proposed Rules for Health Insurance Exchanges

HHS has issued proposed rules( to help states create health insurance exchanges. The exchanges, which were called for in the Patient Protection and Affordable Act, are expected to give individuals and business owners the ability to purchase private health insurance through state-based competitive marketplaces.

The proposed rules establish minimum standards for the exchanges, and are intended to give states the flexibility they need to design exchanges that "best fit their unique insurance markets and are consistent with steps states have already taken to move forward with exchanges," according to HHS( Although the health care reform law requires insurance plans on the exchanges to provide an "adequate" network of physicians and other providers, HHS will allow states to determine what is considered adequate.

The rules focus on two key areas, according to HHS:

  • setting standards for establishing exchanges covering the individual and small group markets, performing the basic functions of an exchange and certifying health plans for participation in the exchange; and
  • ensuring premium stability for plans and enrollees in the exchange, especially in the early years as new people come into the exchanges to shop for health insurance.

The exchanges officially open on Jan. 1, 2014, but the law calls for open enrollment periods to allow consumers to sign up before that date.