Japan suspends use of two vaccines

Japan has suspended the use of two vaccines made by Pfizer, Inc., and Sanofi-Aventis as it investigates the deaths of four children that have been linked to the drugs.

The children, who ranged in age from six months to two years, died after being given either Prevnar, produced by Pfizer, or ActHIB, produced by Sanofi, or a combination of drugs, according to

ActHIB is a type b haemophilius influenza vaccine and Prevnar is a pneumococcal conjugate vaccine.

This is not the first time Prevnar has been at the center of controversy. In 2009, Pfizer suspended a batch of the drug in the Netherlands following the deaths of three infants around the time of vaccination, reports. There proved to be no correlation.

The Japanese health ministry has said the suspension will be in place until the results of an investigation by medical experts is known. The results are expected to be released on March 8.

A Pfizer spokesman told that, based on the company’s evaluation, the drugs used in the case came from three separate lots. The company also announced that it is preparing a response to inquiries from the health ministry.

A Sanofi spokesman said his company is also awaiting the results from the panel of experts. It currently has no plans to recall ActHIB.