Rabies Vaccine Supply Situation

Posted: September 4, 2008

syringe and vials of medicine

Current Situation

  • Effective immediately, Novartis Vaccines will no longer be shipping supplies of RabAvert®. Novartis will be re-directing any customers back to their state/local public health authorities to obtain a passcode to process their order through Sanofi. Novartis will retain doses for emergency consideration on a case by case basis in case of adverse events to alternative vaccination.
  • As of August 29, 2008, Sanofi Pasteur in coordination with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has resumed shipping IMOVAX® Rabies, rabies vaccine for post-exposure prophylaxis only.
  • To obtain IMOVAX rabies vaccine you must first contact your Rabies State Health Official so that a risk-assessment can be conducted for the suspected exposure. If your Rabies State Health Official determines that rabies post-exposure prophylaxis is indicated they will provide you with a passcode to place on the Sanofi Pasteur Rabies Post-Exposure Form. The form must be filled out in its entirety, including the required physician’s signature and passcode provided by your Rabies State Health Official. Please contact Sanofi Pasteur at 1-800-VACCINE to obtain the required form. Please click here for a list of the Rabies State Health Officials.

Why is there an interruption in supply?

  • Starting in June 2007, Sanofi Pasteur began renovating its IMOVAX Rabies vaccine production facility in France to maintain compliance with the most current requirements from FDA and the French regulatory body. Prior to these renovations, Sanofi Pasteur established an inventory based on historical levels of sales and projected market demand. The facility is scheduled to be approved and operational by mid-to-late 2009. Until the facility is operational, Sanofi Pasteur has a finite amount of IMOVAX Rabies vaccine.
  • After the renovations began, Novartis, the other supplier of rabies vaccine for the United States, was unable to meet projected rabies vaccine supplies.
  • Since early 2008, Novartis has been supplying its rabies vaccine, RabAvert, for post-exposure use only. Consequently, Sanofi Pasteur has been supplying nearly all of the market for rabies vaccine. The increase in demand for IMOVAX is outpacing the company s historical levels of supply.

How does this affect current rabies vaccination recommendations?

  • Persons at increased risk for rabies exposure should take appropriate precautions to avoid rabies exposure
  • Vaccine is available for PEP, and providers should consult with their local or state public health department to ensure appropriate use of PEP
  • General rabies awareness and prevention messages should be emphasized to avoid exposure (e.g., avoid wildlife contact, vaccinate pets/livestock, capture/observe/test exposing animal, etc.)

Previous Updates on this Situation