BANGKOK – Thailand’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recalled and destroyed substandard rabies vaccines, which have been partly blamed for the current spread of rabies, in late 2016.
FDA deputy secretary-general Dr Surachoke Tangwiwat admitted on Sunday that three batches of vaccines were found to be substandard.
“These rabies vaccines were imported from Spain. As soon as we found that their potency was below standard, we recalled and destroyed them in late 2016,” he said. “We have already taken legal actions against importers.”
According to The Nation the problem was detected after the Institute of Biological Products at the Public Health Ministry’s Department of Medical Sciences checked the batches, and then the FDA confirmed the quality of the vaccines was below standard.
However, Surachoke said all vaccines on the market currently were in line with proper standards.
“We have constantly monitored product quality. If we find anything dangerous, we will immediately alert the public,” he said.
Surachoke also urged people to alert the FDA if they detected hazardous products by calling the 1556 hotline or via the Oryor Smart Application.
This year, more than 400 people were infected with rabies, resulting in several deaths.
Meanwhile, The Department of Livestock Development has declared 22 provinces, including Bangkok, temporary rabies zones and urged people to have their pets vaccinated against the disease.
The 22 provinces are Chiang Rai, Surin, Chon Buri, Samut Prakan, Chachoengsao, Nan, Buri Ram, Ubon Ratchathani, Roi Et, Songkhla, Rayong, Tak, Si Sa Ket, Maha Sarakham, Nakhon Ratchasima, Trang, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Amnat Charoen, Yasothon, Samut Songkhram, Nonthaburi and Bangkok. The presence of rabies in these provinces is of concern, said the department.
The department has recommended that pets such as dogs and cats are vaccinated for the first time, when they are 2-4 months old and then every year as scheduled. The department warned that people should avoid animals with abnormal behavior and urged them to immediately contact the department at Hotline 1422 if they find dead dogs, cats or any distressed mammals.