FDA says vaccines containing pig virus are safe for use

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says two vaccines created to combat rotavirus are safe to use despite the presence of a pig virus found in each.

The LA News Monitor reports that Rotarix and RotaTeq - vaccines sold by GlaxoSmithKline and Merck and Company, respectively - can be given to patients again after a study of the effects of the strains of pig virus found in each vaccine.

The viruses are believed to cause a chronic wasting syndrome in piglets, according to the report, but testing has shown no known effects on humans. The report states that the FDA panel has determined that there was close to no chance that the viruses could spread in humans.

"These viruses are not known to cause any infection or illness in people," the FDA states on its website. "Based on a careful review of a variety of scientific information, FDA has determined it is appropriate for clinicians and public health professionals in the United States to use these vaccines. All available evidence supports the safety and effectiveness of Rotarix and RotaTeq, which have been extensively studied, both before and after approval."

Neither of the vaccines for rotavirus are big hits, The LA News Monitor reports. But the low cost of each has made it appealing to some. Merck's vaccine sales were estimated at $522 million in 2009, including $468 million in the United States, according to the report. The Glaxo Rotavirus vaccine brought in $440 million globally last year, including $118 million in sales in the United States.