Travel: Why are there so many shortages of common vaccines?

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Travel: Why are there so many shortages of common vaccines?
Travel: Why are there so many shortages of common vaccines?
Travel: Why are there so many shortages of common vaccines?
Travel: Why are there so many shortages of common vaccines?

A popular vaccine commonly used by travellers for protection against hepatitis A and hepatitis B isn’t available in most pharmacies in Nova Scotia right now.

GlaxoSmithKline, which manufactures Twinrix, hasn’t been able to supply the vaccine since Sept. 14.

“That’s the date when the manufacturer was no longer able to ship. However, some pharmacies may have had inventory after that time [depending] how much they had in stock, but right now when they place their order, they are unable to get any more,” said Lisa Woodill of the Pharmaceutical Association of Nova Scotia.

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GlaxoSmithKline attributes “a disruption in the manufacturing process” for the shortage.

“That could mean anything, from not able to source one of the ingredients that’s required, to something to do with the equipment — we don’t know any further details,” Woodill said.

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“In the meantime, GSK is committed to addressing requests for medical needs.​ GSK is working diligently to minimize any supply impact to patients and to return to normal supply volumes as soon as possible.”

Hepatitis A is an extremely contagious liver disease spread through direct contact with an infected person or by eating contaminated food or water. Hepatitis B is a liver infection commonly spread through contact with blood, open sores or body fluids of someone who has the virus.

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There’s been no word from GlaxoSmithKline on when Twinrix will be available again.

It has posted some information about the shortage to a website called Drug Shortages Canada. Health Canada requires pharmaceutical companies to use the website for public notifications of anticipated and actual drug shortages, as well as discontinuations.

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