Saturday, December 4, 2010

Merck Quietly Stops Making Three Separate Childhood Vaccines -- Permanently


First, to be clear -- Merck will henceforth only sell the vaccines as a single dose combo, called M-M-R® II (Live). Apparently, there will be no way to procure each vaccine as a separately stocked item.

For the moment -- until it is suggested otherwise -- I will accept at face-value the rationale in the Whitehouse Station statement from November 17, 2010, that Merck has permanently ceased production of its individually-dosed Measles/Mumps/Rubella live vaccines "for science-based" reasons. Still -- I've scoured the wires, and near as I can tell, no news outlet has reported this permanent cessation. Here it is, as a PDF file (see footnotes to the table) -- and I can confirm that those footnotes were not there on November 1, 2010, when last I updated the readership, on vaccine outages:

. . . .Monovalent vaccines no longer available for measles, mumps, rubella -

Based on input from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), professional societies, scientific leaders, and customers, Merck has decided not to resume production of ATTENUVAX® (Measles Virus Vaccine Live), MUMPSVAX® (Mumps Virus Vaccine Live), and MERUVAX® II (Rubella Virus Vaccine Live). This science-based decision will support vaccination of the largest group of appropriate individuals. Merck will continue to focus necessary resources to ensure that they can help meet current and future global public health needs for their combination measles, mumps and rubella vaccine, M-M-R® II (Measles, Mumps, and Rubella Virus Vaccine Live). . . .

So, Merck will henceforth make only its childhood combo-vaccine. Interesting, but I'd bet that the reimbursement scheme has changed -- making it more cost-effective to sell only the M-M-R® II combo vaccine for children. Let's see what others report, now.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

On a totally different note; did you follow the recently posted layoffs at Union site~54 jobs.

http://lwd.dol.state.nj.us/labor/lwdhome/warn/2010/1110WARN.html

Thanks Fred!

Anonymous said...

A quick google shows Merck's intent to discontinue monovalent vaccines was first announced in 2008:

Merck Focusing on Combination Vaccine:
Manufacturer Stops Sales of Monovalents for Measles, Mumps, Rubella


By David Mitchell,
12/24/2008

"Merck & Co. Inc. has stopped production and sales of its monovalent vaccines for measles, mumps and rubella. The manufacturer instead plans to focus on its combination vaccine, MMRII."

After the anti-vax cranks got wind of this, there was at least one campaign to get Merck to reconsider the decision. There were some mentions that Merck would restart monovalent vaccine production in 2011, but that may have been a misunderstanding by the anti-vaxers, as misinterpreting information and cherry-picking data are areas in which these folks excel.
Merck's decision was apparently reconfirmed in 2009:


Separate measles, mumps, rubella vaccine formulations discontinued


Posted on the Pediatric SuperSite on October 22, 2009

"A representative from Merck announced that the company plans to discontinue production of monovalent measles, mumps, rubella vaccine formulations during the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practice’s meeting yesterday."

...And, as you report today, the final decision was quietly slipped into corporate documents, perhaps a fait accompli to keep the anti-vaxers at bay.

condor said...

Interesting.

Indeed -- thanks to you both!

Namaste

Anonymous said...

And today the NYT takes Pfizer to the woodshed for price gouging, now that single "old school" vaccines cannot be sourced.

Indeed!