Germany faces chickenpox jab shortage after GSK problems

FRANKFURT Mon Jan 27, 2014 1:48pm EST

A Chinese employee walks into a GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) office in Beijing, July 19, 2013. REUTERS/Jason Lee

A Chinese employee walks into a GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) office in Beijing, July 19, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Jason Lee

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FRANKFURT (Reuters) - German doctors have been told to ration two chickenpox vaccines for children after drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline stopped deliveries, saying production quality standards had not been met.

Healthcare regulators have issued guidelines to physicians to deal with shortages of Priorix-Tetra, a combined vaccine for measles, mumps, rubella and varicella (chickenpox) known as MMRV; and Varilrix, a chickenpox jab.

Vaccines that have already been delivered are safe, said Germany's federal agency for infectious diseases and its vaccination agency, adding they expect GSK to resume deliveries during the second quarter, without being more specific.

Their advice to doctors include using MMR vaccines instead of MMRV for initial shots, and delaying booster jabs.

A spokeswoman for GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) in Germany said it decided to stop all chickenpox vaccine deliveries after it found internal production quality standards had not been met, without elaborating. The spokeswoman could not say whether other countries were also affected.

The drugmaker said it would not resume deliveries until the cause of the problem was identified.

Separately, GSK said it also expects a shortage of Boostrix-Polio, a combined vaccine against diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough and polio, of more two weeks in February because an unexpected increase in demand amid limited production capacity.

(Reporting by Ludwig Burger and Frank Siebelt; Editing by Pravin Char)

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