Page last updated at 13:26 GMT, Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Canada's doctors told to halt swine flu vaccine batch

A nurse preparing a GlaxoSmithKline's swine flu vaccine. File photo
GlaxoSmithKline says other lots of the vaccine are not affected

GlaxoSmithKline has advised doctors in Canada to stop using a batch of its swine flu vaccine, amid reports of severe side-effects in some patients.

The batch of some 170,000 doses was put on voluntary hold because of a reported higher than usual number of patients having anaphylactic reactions.

This may include breathing problems, raised heart rate and skin rashes.

The pharmaceutical company said it had advised that one lot of the Arepanrix vaccine should not be used.

Reports said one in 20,000 people suffered adverse reactions to the batch.

This is five times the expected number. None of the patients reportedly suffered long-term ill-effects.

Voluntary hold

In a statement issued on Tuesday, the company said that following discussions with Canadian health authorities, it was advising a batch of the Arepanrix vaccine with the lot number A80CA007A to be put on hold as a precautionary measure.

GSK said it was taking this action "as a result of a higher than expected rate of serious allergic reactions related to this lot number compared to other lots".

The company said no such reactions had been seen with other lots and that they were unaffected by the voluntary hold.

To date some 15 million doses of Arepanrix have been distributed across Canada and overall the frequency of severe allergic reaction following immunisation was less than one event per 100,000, GSK's statement said.

"This rate does not exceed the rates typically reported for other vaccines," GSK said.

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