[THE INVESTOR] Korean drug makers on Aug. 17 ruled out the possibility that they had used tainted eggs in their flu vaccines amid growing health concerns after the government found some eggs contaminated with a harmful pesticide.
“The eggs we use in vaccine manufacturing are managed at high standards of safety comparable to those of other raw pharmaceutical materials,” an official at Green Cross said.
Chicken eggs are key ingredient for vaccines, helping to grow the flu virus strains included in the seasonal flu shot.
Green Cross is one of the three companies including Ilyang Pharmaceuticals and SK Chemical that produce their self-developed influenza vaccines in Korea. While Green Cross and Ilyang Pharmaceuticals manufacture egg-derived vaccine viruses, SK Chemical utilizes cell-based technology for its products.
“It has been confirmed that no insecticide such as Fipronil and Bifenthrin have been used in the farm of our egg supplier,” an Ilyang Pharmaceuticals official said.
Although the insecticide is often used to kill ticks and fleas, the country banned its use in food animals. Heavy exposure to the insecticide can cause seizures or kidney and liver damage, but experts said that small-scale exposure, such as that provided by the eggs, poses little risk.
Early this morning, the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs said it found tainted eggs from 60 farms while conducting quarantine examinations on 1,239 poultry farms nationwide.
The egg contamination scandal came to public attention in early August when the first case was reported in the Netherlands and Belgium, leading European supermarkets to pull millions of eggs and hurting trade in the region. Tainted eggs were found in 15 EU nations as well as Switzerland and Hong Kong.
By Park Han-na (firstname.lastname@example.org)