Counterfeit Rabies Vaccines: The Philippine Experience

Open Forum Infect Dis. 2020 Jul 22;7(8):ofaa313. doi: 10.1093/ofid/ofaa313. eCollection 2020 Aug.


Background: In December 2018, a large, tertiary, university-affiliated hospital in the Philippines discovered that their legitimate supply chain was infiltrated with counterfeit rabies vaccines.

Methods: All vials suspected to be counterfeit were quarantined and surrendered to the Philippine Food and Drug Administration. Patients who may have received the counterfeit products were recalled, evaluated, and revaccinated accordingly. Vials of the counterfeit vaccines were sent to various laboratories for testing.

Results: Two batches of counterfeit rabies vaccines were found to have infiltrated the hospital's supply chain between December 2017 and December 2018. Of the 1711 patients who may have received counterfeit vaccines, 1397 patients were successfully contacted, and 734 were revaccinated with at least 1 dose of authentic rabies vaccine. The counterfeit vials were sterile, contained no toxic substances, and both contained active antirabies ingredient. No report of rabies infection or other adverse events were noted.

Conclusions: Our experience demonstrates the need for strong intervention and collaborative response from all stakeholders-government and regulatory bodies, the pharmaceutical industry, and individual institutions and consumers-to effectively eradicate counterfeiting and protect our patients.

Keywords: counterfeit vaccines; rabies; supply chain.