Canada joins in on Novartis vaccine suspension

Add Canada to the growing list of countries weighing in against Novartis' ($NVS) flu vaccines. Health Canada said it would suspend the shots, following similar moves by European regulators, because of clumped-together virus particles found in the Italian-made vials.

Novartis agreed to stop distributing the flu fighters--sold in Canada under the brand names Fluad and Agriflu--as Health Canada investigates. The agency also told doctors and clinics to stop administering the Novartis shots, at least for now.

"We think it's prudent, given the response of certain European countries ... to stop distributing and then to recommend to practitioners to refrain from using the vaccine just until the review is completed," a Health Canada official told CBC.

Canada's decision came on the heels of suspensions in 6 European countries, including Italy, France and Switzerland. In Germany, officials not only stopped distributing the products; some lots were recalled as well.

Novartis says it has handed over information to regulators that "supports the quality, the efficacy and the safety of the vaccines." The shots are sold under a variety of brand names, including Agrippal, Begrippal, and Influpozzi.

- read the CBC story

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