Britain's biggest drugmaker, which is also one of
the world's leading vaccine manufacturers, said on Tuesday it
expected shipments to begin again at the end of the first quarter.
The quality issue affects two vaccines containing a varicella
(chickenpox) component — Priorix-Tetra, a combined vaccine for
measles, mumps, rubella and varicella, known as MMRV, and Varilrix,
a single chickenpox shot.
"We're committed to resolve this supply disruption situation as soon
as possible and are actively involved in keeping regulatory
authorities and customers informed as we look to minimize the impact
of this temporary supply disruption," a GSK spokesman in London
This will involve re-allocating 2014 supply to minimize the
disruption, he said. Several other companies also produce similar
vaccines and may be able step in to meet short-term shortages.
The setback is likely to have some impact on GSK's vaccine sales in
the first quarter, although there may be a catch-up in volumes in
the three months to June. GSK does not break out revenues for the
German doctors have already been told by health officials to ration
the two chickenpox vaccines. Their advice to doctors includes using
MMR vaccines instead of MMRV for initial shots, and delaying booster
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Vaccines that have already been delivered are safe, said
Germany's federal agency for infectious diseases and its vaccination
Separately, GSK said it also expects a shortage this month in
Germany of Boostrix-Polio, a combined vaccine against diphtheria,
tetanus, whooping cough and polio, because an unexpected increase in
demand amid limited production capacity. GSK said this shortage was
a local German issue.
(Reporting by Ludwig Burger, Frank
Siebelt and Ben Hirschler; editing by Pravin Char and Greg Mahlich)
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