Prevnar (pneumococcal)  Death

Vaccine use halted after baby deaths

Friday 06 November 2009

The Dutch health institute RIVM has stopped the distribution of a batch of Pfizer's Prevnar childhood vaccine following the death of three babies shortly after being vaccinated.

The vaccine has been labeled 'do not use' and and new supplies have been made available to doctors.

The exact cause of the death of the infants is not yet known, the RIVM said. The babies died between one and 11 days after the vaccination.

CORRECT (11/6): Pfizer Vaccine Batch Quarantined In Netherlands After Deaths

("=Pfizer Vaccine Batch Recalled In Netherlands After Deaths," at 2158 GMT on Nov. 6, mistakenly said the batch was recalled in the headline. The correct version follows:)

By Peter Loftus

Pfizer Inc. (PFE) has suspended distribution and quarantined a batch of its Prevnar childhood vaccine in the Netherlands following reports of the deaths of three infants around the time of vaccination.

The New York drug maker took the precautionary action after being notified of the deaths by Dutch health authorities, who are investigating the matter, said company spokeswoman Gwendolyn Fisher.

Pfizer isn't aware of any causal link between the deaths and the vaccinations, and the exact causes of death aren't known, Fisher said Thursday. Other lots of Prevnar are available to continue routine vaccination in the Netherlands.

Prevnar is used to prevent pneumococcal disease in children, including a form of meningitis and a bloodstream infection. Its brand name in Europe is Prevenar. Pfizer just acquired the product through its October acquisition of Wyeth.

The lot that has been quarantined has about 111,000 doses, Fisher said.

Prevnar generated about $1.5 billion in sales for the first six months of 2009, the last period for which figures were reported. Pfizer also is developing a follow-up product, Prevnar 13.

Pfizer shares rose 9 cents to $17.02 in 4 p.m. New York trading Thursday.

-By Peter Loftus, Dow Jones Newswires; 215-656-8289;