Merial: PureVax for ferrets coming back this week

Backorder of distemper vaccine stirred worries

Published: April 30, 2012
By Edie Lau

Merial officials said today that the ferret distemper vaccine PureVax will be back on the market within days, following several weeks on backorder.

“We just had our inventories cleared for release, and we will be back on sale by the end of this week,” company spokesman Steven Dickinson told the VIN News Service.

The vaccine shortage stirred concerns among veterinarians who see ferrets because Merial’s PureVax is the only licensed distemper vaccine for ferrets. Some members of the Veterinary Information Network (VIN), an online community for the profession, speculated on a message board that the vaccine might be discontinued.

That is not the case, said Dr. Bob Menardi, Merial’s director of pet biologicals. “The product is not being discontinued,” he said. He added: "It’s a relatively small product for us, but it’s an important one because it’s the only one out there.”

Menardi said the strain of distemper in question is the same one that infects dogs. It is deadly to ferrets.

However, the vaccine for canine distemper made for dogs should not be used in ferrets, Menardi said. That’s because it’s a modified live vaccine that may infect and sicken ferrets. The vaccine for ferrets is a canarypox vector recombinant product, he said.

Dickinson said the backorder was caused by “manufacturing issues” related to vaccine potency. “This is a very difficult vaccine to make,” he said. “... Getting the vaccine potent enough, that’s an issue of this particular (product)."

He added: "It’s not a quality issue; it’s a manufacturing issue.”

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