German authorities ordered a recall Thursday of some batches of Novartis flu vaccine as a precautionary measure after the company reported the appearance of small particles in the manufacturing process.
The Paul Ehrlich Institute, which is part of the country's Ministry of Health, said there had been no reports of particle formation in Germany or of any serious side effects during the current flu season.
"However, in the interest of risk prevention and consumer safety it is necessary to cancel the approval for certain vaccines, since the formation of particles in the vaccine and therefore the risk of serious side effects cannot be ruled out," Institute President Prof. Klaus Cichutek said in a statement.
The decision affects four batches of the influenza vaccine Begripal and one batch of Fluad. It does not affect the seasonal vaccine Optaflu.
It's unclear whether the Canadian supply is also produced in Switzerland. Health Canada said it was continuing to work with the company to monitor the vaccine’s safety, while a spokesperson for Novartis said the company is “currently investigating the status in Canada.”
Italy's health ministry banned the sale of four Novartis flu drugs on Wednesday. These included Fluad and Begripal -- sold as Aggripal in Italy -- as well as two others: Influpozzi Adiuvato and Influpozzi Subunita.
Switzerland's regulator Swissmedic also suspended deliveries of flu vaccines from Novartis as a preventive measure.Meanwhile, Novartis is saying it remains "confident in the safety and efficacy" of the vaccines in question.