Anti-rabies vaccine: Company was asked to withdraw 50,000 vials; details emerge

Representative image. File Photo.

Kozhikode: A company was asked to withdraw about 50,000 vials of the anti-rabies vaccine after those who took the vaccine developed allergies earlier this year, as per the details that have emerged. The allergies were reportedly caused by the medicine of the company that has been supplying the vaccine to the Kerala Medical Services Corporation for years.

The Corporation asked to withdraw two batches of the medicine after those who took the vaccine in Vadakara, Mangattuparambu and Thalassery suffered severe itching and breathlessness. Attempts were made to place the order with another company, but the same company provided the vaccine to replace the withdrawn batches in the first week of March.

The incident happened last January. The Corporation sought  action after one patient died of rabies in Kasaragod and the medicine supplied in the northern districts was found to have caused allergies. The Corporation asked the company, which had won the tender, to withdraw 50,000 vials, and directed the company, which was in the second spot in the tender, to supply about 1 lakh of vials. The vaccine of the company, which was in the second spot, costs Rs 36 more per vial.

But the company, which is currently supplying the medicine, pointed out that the vaccine was distributed after completing the quality tests at the Central Drugs Laboratory (CDL) and that the corporation did not follow the procedures for cancelling the order. As the contract is for one year, the company's stance was that it would not be possible to cancel the order and the medicine cannot be purchased from those in the second spot. It also pointed out that a higher price should not be paid for the company in the second spot.

As it became clear that the matter would head to the court, the Corporation decided to check the quality of the vaccine again. Samples of both the batches were sent to the central lab again.

The CDL officials, who explained initially itself that there would not be any issues with a medicine that had been tested once, also clarified that the vaccine did not lack quality. But the company withdrew the said batches and supplied a new batch of vaccine in the first week of March.

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