"We need to consider this very expeditiously," said Karen Midthun, acting head of the FDA unit that reviews vaccines, as quoted by Reuters.
When would the agency, which isn't exactly known for its speed, act quickly? When pigs fly, would be my guess. But maybe it's actually when pig viruses "contaminate" vaccine.
In March, the FDA recommended that doctors stop using GlaxoSmithKline's
Since then, Merck's
Sales of the rotavirus vaccines aren't at the level of Pfizer's
The FDA convened a panel of experts on Friday to help sort out the mess, but the plot only thickened as Merck said its vaccine also contained parts of pig viruses. No one is quite sure how the viruses got in there, but one component of the manufacturing process uses an enzyme from pigs, so that could be the culprit.
At any rate, FDA advisors seemed to conclude that the risk -- if there is any -- is overshadowed by the benefits of the vaccines.
But the FDA has the final say, and whether this issue can be resolved "expeditiously" remains to be seen. The agency took an extra 10 months to approve Novo Nordisk's
Vaccine makers, especially Glaxo and its currently not-recommended vaccine, certainly hope a decision comes faster than that.
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Fool contributor Brian Orelli, Ph.D., doesn't own shares of any company mentioned in this article. Pfizer is a Motley Fool Inside Value recommendation. The Fool owns shares of GlaxoSmithKline and has a disclosure policy.