Duque orders FDA to find new suppliers of human anti-rabies vaccine

By Leilani Junio

April 5, 2018, 6:50 pm

MANILA – Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said Thursday he has directed the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to look for new suppliers of human anti-rabies vaccine to address the shortage the country may face as global demand rise.

“We are looking for another supplier that will have to go through the FDA's screening and compliant with standards of quality, safety, and efficacy,” Duque said in an interview with the media.

He said the prospective supplier of the vaccine should be included in the list of the World Health Organization’s prequalified vaccines.

The need to find a new supplier of anti-rabies vaccine has arisen as GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), one of the country's main suppliers, is facing some problems of its own, he said.

In the past years, GSK had been supplying at least 50 percent of the human anti-rabies vaccine "Rabipur" to the country.

The other supplier, Sanofi Pasteur -- supplier of "Verorab" – could not cover the needed requirement as of now as it is also in the process of completing supplies to other parts of the world.

“We are hoping they would be able to supply us 50 percent of our rabies requirement but GSK withdrew. So all of a sudden, we have (a more than) 50 percent gap,” Duque added.

Based on the health department's record, only about 32 percent of the supply requirement was initially delivered by GSK while the remaining 68 percent did not push through due to supply shortage.

In anticipation of the effects of depletion of stocks, the department said it is time to be more aggressive in shifting the control of human rabies from its main source -- rabid dogs.

Duque said the strategy is cost-effective as it will not require much spending in the process.

Meanwhile, the health chief warned the public against resorting to traditional and non-medical alternative ways of treating animal bites, such as rubbing dog bite wounds with garlic.

“These practices have no scientific evidences,” he said.

Instead, he said the first step is to wash the wound thoroughly with soap and immediately get immunized if the patient is uncertain if the dog that bit him/her had been given the anti-rabies vaccine. (PNA)