Flu vaccines withdrawn

Italian health authorities have called for the immediate withdrawal of several influenza vaccinations produced by the Swiss pharmaceuticals company Novartis, the news agency ANSA reports. 

The Italian Heath Ministry together with AIFA, a state agency governing the local pharmaceutical industry, is investigating possible side effects of the vaccines, according to a statement released by the ministry. The banned pharmaceuticals include Novartis' Fluad, Agrippal and Influpozzi produced for the Italian market. "Citizens are asked not to buy or use any of these vaccines until further notice," the ministry said in a statement, and provided a Q&A guide to reassure citizens.  The ministry and the Carabinieri confiscated some 1.3 million doses of vaccine already distributed in seven of Italy’s 10 regions.

In a statement, AIFA said the quality controls carried out by independent, third-party laboratories had uncovered deviations from the expected norms in finished products.  “This should not be a source of worry, but rather a reassurance that the control system is working,” the statement continued.
Manufacturer Novartis also released a statement, saying that the production batch in which the anomalous result was recorded in fact never went on the market, and admitted that the mix-up was caused by incomplete documentation they had provided, and that they were now providing more complete documentation.
Vaccines have also been withdrawn from the market in France, Switzerland and Austria.

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