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Italy Lifts Novartis Flu Vaccines Ban After No Defects Found

The Italian drug industry regulator lifted a ban on Novartis AG flu vaccines, allowing the company to resume selling the shots during the prime winter flu season.

The regulator, or Aifa, didn’t find any defects in the banned vaccines Agrippal and Fluad, the agency said in an e-mailed statement today.

Italy and Switzerland halted sales of the vaccines on Oct. 24 after the company informed Italian authorities of a buildup of particles in the shots. About 488,000 doses were subject to the ban, the Italian Health Ministry said. Countries including Canada, France and the U.K. later imposed restrictions.

“Novartis is pleased that the Italian authorities have decided to lift the precautionary hold on its seasonal influenza vaccines,” Basel, Switzerland-based Novartis said in an e-mailed statement.

Vaccines account for 5 percent of Novartis’s total sales, according to a report by Helvea SA analysts. Seasonal flu shots make up about a quarter of that revenue, the analysts said.

Authorities in Canada and Switzerland have already allowed the vaccines back on the market.

Recalls are still effective in the U.K. and for specific batches in Germany, Beth Calitri, a Novartis spokeswoman, said in an e-mailed message.

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