Merck reports hep B vaccine shortage

Equipment upgrades at Merck's West Point, PA-based vaccine plant will cause shortages of its hepatitis B vaccine Recombivax HB for adults. The company said that pediatric doses would not be effected. In the meantime, Merck's rival GSK will produce more of its own hepatitis jab to make up for Merck's cutbacks. The company did not indicate when vaccine production would return to its normal levels, though a spokesperson did say the upgrades would be completed "in a timely manner."

Merck emphasized that the equipment overhaul is not related to the warnings the plant received in April, in which the FDA found that the facility didn't meet the agency's manufacturing standards. It also said that this shortage isn't related to the Zostavax shortage. The shingles vaccine has been scarce since demand for the vaccine shot up and the base materials to make it are in short supply.

- read the Philadelphia Inquirer article for more