WHO suspends Shan5 combination vaccine

GENEVA, March 18, 2010 (AFP) - The World Health Organisation said Thursday it was suspending the use of the Indian-developed Shan5 combination vaccine, which is used against infections such as diphtheria, tetanus and hepatitis B.

"The manufacturer got some complaints that there was suspended white sediment in some of the vials," WHO spokeswoman Alison Brunier told AFP.

As a result, the UN health agency decided to suspend the use of the vaccine, procured by UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) and used in countries such as Chad, Colombia and Pakistan.

"None of the information suggests that there is a safety problem. This is more of a precautionary measure," said Brunier.

She added that the vaccines have been "quarantined in the countries" and have not been recalled by the manufacturer, Shantha Biotechnics India, a subsidiary of French pharmaceutical giant Sanofi-Aventis.

Shantha had won a 340 million dollar contract from UNICEF in September to provide the vaccine, which is also used against pertussis and haemophilus influenza B.

Between January 2009 and February 2010, about 23.9 million doses of the vaccine were supplied, the WHO said.

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