Friday, September 12, 2008

Rabies vaccines hit by supply problems

From the Edmonton Sun:
Public health authorities on both sides of the Canada-U.S. border are trying to reduce demand for rabies vaccine in the face of a serious supply problem expected to persist well into next year.

Supply limitations have officials scrambling to try to avoid what would be a public health nightmare — a shortage of a vaccine that literally means the difference between life and death for people truly exposed to the rabies virus.

“The rabies vaccine supply is tight,” said Dr. John Spika, a senior official with the Public Health Agency of Canada. “We are concerned.”

The Public Health Agency has been exploring the possibility of sourcing vaccine from manufacturers not licensed to sell in Canada, said Spika, acting director general for the centre for immunization and respiratory infectious diseases. Unlicensed vaccine would have to be imported under a “special access” program for drugs and biological products.

In the United States, authorities have formed a working group to explore what options would be available should demand outstrip supply.

Proposals include using an alternative dose and ramping up control measures aimed at reducing rabies in wild animals, said Charles Rupprecht, chief of the rabies program at the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, Ga. ...more

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