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Italy: Banned flu vaccines 'safe and effective' says Novartis

last update: October 25, 12:56

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Rome, 25 Oct. (AKI) - Swiss drugmaker Novartis on Thursday defended its flu vaccines claiming they are safe and effective despite an Italian ban. The company's chief executive Joseph Jimenez also said he did not expect other countries to take similar action to Italy's, although he could not rule this out.

Novartis said it was cooperating with the Italian pharmaceutical agency AIFA and with the health ministry, which on Wednesday halted sales of four of its anti-influenza vaccines pending tests for possible side effects after small particles were found in some of the shots.

"Novartis confirms its confidence in the safety and efficacy of its seasonal influenza vaccines Agrippal and Fluad manufactured in Italy," Novartis said in its Thursday statement.

"Patient safety is of the highest priority to Novartis....To date, data from the ongoing seasonal vaccination campaign have revealed no safety signals," it added.

Italy uses between 10 million and 12 million doses of flu vaccines every year, according to the health ministry.

Last week the Italian health ministry said Netherlands-based vaccine maker Crucell, a unit of Johnson & Johnson, said it had suspended a delivery of 2.3 million doses of its seasonal flu vaccine Inflexal V to Italy after Crucell warned of "potential problems" with two lots.

The health ministry will make up the vaccine shortfall by purchasing these from other companies, he said.

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