Sanofi-Aventis has launched its diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough booster vaccine, Adacel, onto the US market for adolescents and adults aged 11 to 64 years.

The vaccine won the green light from the US Food and Drug Administration last month [[13/06/05b]], and Sanofi-Aventis notes that it is the first and only booster available in the US to protect against whooping cough, or pertussis, from adolescence through to adulthood.

The French drugmaker says that the number of reported cases of whooping cough is on the increase across the US – with data suggesting that pertussis case reports for 2004 are the highest number since 1959. The firm notes that as immunity from early childhood vaccinations wears off, adults and adolescents become susceptible to the disease, which they can then transmit to others. At particular risk are newborns who have not yet been fully vaccinated against the disease and whose vulnerability puts them at risk of serious complications and even death – over the last decade, 80% of pertussis deaths have occurred in infants under six months of age.