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Vaccines, Blood & Biologics

Letter to Vaccine Manufacturers Regarding Plans for Continued Use of Thimerosal as a Vaccine Preservative

Department of Health and Human Services
Public Health Service
Food and Drug Administration
1401 Rockville Pike
Rockville, MD 20852-1448


July 1, 1999

Dear Vaccine Manufacturer:

The Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research (CBER) is evaluating the continued use of thimerosal in biologic products under the Food and Drug Administration Modernization Act (FDAMA) of 1997, Section 413, "FDA Study of Mercury Compounds in Drugs and Food."

As part of this evaluation, we are now requesting that all manufacturers of thimerosal-containing vaccines provide information to CBER regarding their plans for thimerosal as a preservative in U.S. licensed vaccines, addressing each product separately.

  1. If you intend to remove thimerosal from your product(s), please discuss the following:

    1. proposed studies to assess the effect of removing thimerosal on sterility, potency, stability, and immunogenicity of the product;
    2. feasibility of eliminating or reducing the amount of thimerosal, using alternative preservatives, or reformulating the product solely for single dose containers;
    3. anticipated manufacturing changes as a result of removing thimerosal, if any;
    4. approximate time-line necessary to evaluate and implement removal.
  2. If you intend to continue using thimerosal in your product (s), please provide an explanation as to why you have made this decision.

Please note that FDA regulations do not require use of preservatives in biological products formulated for single-dose containers. CBER encourages discussions with manufacturers as to what additional data, if any, would be required to effect such a change.

We request that you submit the information requested above within 45 days to the attention of Ms. Valerie Vashio, HFM-475. Please contact Norman W. Baylor, Ph. D. at 301-827-0655 if you have questions or would like to schedule a meeting with CBER regarding the above request.

Sincerely yours,


--- signature ---


William Egan, Ph.D.
Acting Director,
Office of Vaccines
    Research and Review
Center for Biologics
    Evaluation and Research

Contact FDA

(800) 835-4709
(240) 402-8010
Consumer Affairs Branch (CBER)

Division of Communication and Consumer Affairs

Office of Communication, Outreach and Development

Food and Drug Administration

10903 New Hampshire Avenue

Building 71 Room 3103

Silver Spring, MD 20993-0002

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