Typhoid vaccine recall results in shortage in U.K.

A typhoid vaccine recall issued back in October by Sanofi Pasteur MSD--a joint venture of pharma giants Sanofi ($SNY) and Merck ($MRK)--has resulted in a shortage of the injection in the United Kingdom. The loss of 16 batches of Typhim Vi dealt a blow to the venture's finances and potential travelers to the developing world.  

Sanofi Pasteur MSD recalled a whopping 88% of its stock after tests showed the shots were too weak. Up to 729,606 people received the defective doses. The reduced-potency shots themselves are not harmful, but those who received the shot from Jan. 7, 2011, through Oct. 8, 2012--the date of the recall--may not have full protection against typhoid.

The company hopes to return the Typhim Vi supply to normal early this year, a spokesman told The Telegraph. But vaccines lost mean dollars down the drain. In 2011, nonconsolidated 2011 sales of Sanofi Pasteur MSD hit €791 million ($1.04 billion). The venture has 25 vaccines on its roster; of those, only Typhim Vi helps protect against typhoid.

Typhoid fever, a sometimes deadly disease caused by the bacterium Salmonella typhi, causes fever, weakness, stomach pains, headaches and loss of appetite. The disease is most common in the developing world, where it affects about 21.5 million people each year. Swiss Serum and Vaccine Institute's Vivotif Berna and Typhim Vi are the two typhoid vaccines licensed in the United States.

A spokeswoman for Crucell, the manufacturer of Vivotif, said the shortage of Typhim Vi means availability of its own vaccine is "off and on," The Guardian reports.

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