Japan finds no vaccine link to child deaths

Japanese experts didn't identify a clear link between two childhood vaccines and the deaths of four children who received them. That's the good news for Pfizer's ($PFE) Prevenar--known as Prevnar in the U.S.--and Sanofi-Aventis' ($SNY) Act HIB, an anti-pneumonia vaccine. The bad news? The Japanese government will keep both vaccines on suspension for now.

The country's health ministry had stopped use of the two products following the deaths of four children who had received a combination of childhood vaccines, including the Pfizer and Sanofi products. Experts reviewed the cases, and during a hearing earlier today said they hadn't found a causal link--but that more study would be necessary before the vaccines are put back into use.

As Reuters reports, U.S regulators are aware of the deaths in Japan but say they have not identified any similar concerns at home. U.S. health agencies "have not detected new safety concerns or unusual reporting patterns" in children given either vaccine, an FDA spokesman told the news service. Experts told Forbes that the Japanese deaths were probably linked to the vaccines only by coincidence.

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