When you make drugs or other medical products, unwanted contaminants can fall into the mix — say, beetle parts (in baby formula) or glass flakes (in anemia drugs).
The latest pharma world example of wow-that-really-shouldn’t-be-in-there comes from Merck. As the WSJ reports, the company says charred bits of plastic shrink wrap have been found in vials of vaccines made at a big plant in West Point, Pa.
Affected products include Gardasil, used against the human papillomavirus, as well as shots against shingles, measles/mumps rubella, pneumococcal disease and chicken pox.
How’d this happen? It seems pieces of the wrap weren’t removed during vial washing and were charred during a sterilization process. Merck says there are no reports of adverse health problems, though theoretically the particles could cause a reaction at the injection site. The problem is very rare, according to the company.
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