TORONTO – Canada is following the lead of several European countries and suspending distribution of flu vaccine made by the pharmaceutical firm Novartis.
The decision relates to the discovery by the company of tiny clumps of virus particles in some batches of flu vaccines made at the Novartis production facility in Italy.
Health Canada, which announced the move, said Novartis has agreed to suspend distribution of its vaccines — sold in Canada as Fluad and Agriflu — while the department investigates the situation. All the Novartis vaccine Canada purchases is made at the Italian plant.
The department is also telling doctors and others who administer flu shots to hold off using Novartis product for the time being.
“We think it’s prudent, given the response of certain European countries to . . . request of Novartis — and they will be complying — to stop distributing and then to recommend to practitioners to refrain from using the (Novartis) vaccine just until this review is completed,” Dr. Paul Gully, senior medical advisory for Health Canada, said Friday.
Italy, Germany and Switzerland have suspended distribution of some Novartis flu vaccine, and in the case of Germany recalled some lots of vaccine, after the clumping issue came to light…”