April 07, 2018 at 01:00 am
HEALTH officials are looking at small vaccine suppliers in addressing the dwindling supply of anti-rabies vaccines for humans here caused by the recall of 50 percent of the world’s supply due to contamination, an official said Friday.
“What the department is going to do is to look for other ways of procuring anti-rabies vaccines from even smaller companies that are FDA [Food and Drug Administration]-approved,” told reporters.
“We can work with the Department of Health to identify the suppliers that will be able to supply vaccines that are also of good quality,” Gundo Weiler, World Health Organization Representative to the Philippines, said in the same briefing.
Bulk supplies for anti-rabies vaccines for humans have become difficult to come by because of a global shortage caused by the recall of 50 percent of the world’s supply.
“Half of the world’s supply of rabies vaccines were tainted and could not be used, so those were withdrawn from all countries,” Domingo said.
Vaccine supply is in an all-time-low in areas such as Bacolod, where five vials of rabies vaccine remain, while some areas such as Davao have consumed all their stocks.
The Health department plans to mobilize supplies from the regions with high amounts of stock to deliver to the areas with depleted supplies.
Domingo said local government units had always bought stock from local suppliers to augment their supplies.
There are no vaccine producers in the Philippines and all supplies are secured from abroad.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III announced earlier that his department will abide by the World Health Organization’s standards in looking for suitable vaccine suppliers.
Weiler says manufacturers who have not gone through the WHO’s pre-qualification process do not necessarily produce sub-standard products and may still be considered to supply the vaccines.
“I think for this, we have to look beyond the list of pre-qualified drugs and explore options of procuring vaccines from other manufacturers who have not gone through that process formally, but we can assume that their drug is still of good quality,” he said.
The pre-qualification list is not a requirement but a tool “to help countries decide from whom they should and could buy a vaccine,” Weiler said.
Medicines and vaccines that are not on the WHO’s pre-qualification list must still be registered with the FDA and its generic form pass the Formulary Executive Council’s assessment.
Duque announced Thursday that his department and the Department of Agriculture will team up to expand the rabies program in light of the vaccine shortage for humans.
Like Duque, Domingo said the Philippines needed to improve its rabies immunization of dogs while Weiler noted that the Philippines had no shortage of animal vaccines.
“There’s no shortage on that front and there’s an opportunity for all of us to ensure that we step up vaccination, particularly of dogs, against rabies,” Weiler said.
Pet owners are required by the Anti-Rabies Act of 2007 to have their dogs registered and immunized against rabies.