Article by
Dani Reiter

Fake Rabies Vaccines Found in the Philippines Again

Philippines rabies vaccines and anti-rabies serum may be counterfeit

young filipino girl on a bike near the beach

Health officials issued a Medical Product Alert regarding 3 different falsified rabies vaccines and 1 falsified anti-rabies serum currently circulating in the Philippines. 

This World Health Organization (WHO) Alert said in a press release on July 16, 2019, that rabies vaccines, Verorab, Speeda, and the anti-rabies serum Equirab, may be counterfeit.

If you are in possession of the above products, please do not use them, says the WHO. 

Additionally, if you have used these falsified products, or if you suffer an adverse event having used these products, please seek immediate advice from a qualified healthcare professional. 

Furthermore, all rabies products must be obtained from authentic and reliable distribution sources. Their authenticity and condition should be carefully verified. 

This news is important since rabies is one of the most fatal infections and it is responsible for the death of 200-300 Filipinos annually. Globally, rabies deaths are rarely reported and children between the ages of 5–14 years are frequent victims. 

The WHO said that ‘this investigation is ongoing, and laboratory analyses are being facilitated for available samples to determine their contents and better assess the risk to public health.’   

‘At this stage of the investigation, no adverse reactions attributed to the falsified rabies products have been reported to WHO.’ 

This new investigation is linked to the January 2019 Alert regarding falsified Verorab rabies vaccines circulating in the Philippines. 

Genuine Verorab, Speeda and Rabipur vaccines are used for pre-exposure vaccination or post-exposure prophylaxis. Genuine Equirab anti-rabies serum provides passive immunization against rabies, said the WHO. 

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The WHO requests increased vigilance within the supply chains of countries likely to be affected by these falsified products. Increased vigilance should include hospitals, clinics, health centers, wholesalers, distributors, pharmacies and any other suppliers of vaccines. 

Rabies is a vaccine-preventable viral disease that is almost always fatal following the onset of clinical symptoms. Rabies is present worldwide, with over 95% of human deaths occurring in the Asia and Africa regions. 

Bats are responsible for about 70 percent of rabies deaths among people who are infected with the rabies virus in the USA, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Rabies vaccines in the USA

There are 2 vaccines approved by the CDC containing inactivated rabies virus, and are considered as equally safe and effective:

  • HDCV vaccine (Imovax) is produced in human diploid cell culture.
  • PCECV vaccine (RabAvert) is produced in chick embryo cell culture.

The CDC says 23 human cases of rabies have been reported in the USA between 2008-2017. Eight of these cases were contracted outside of the U.S. and its territories.

Rabies vaccine news

Rabies is one of the neglected tropical diseases that predominantly affect poor and vulnerable populations who live in remote rural locations, says the WHO. Treating a rabies exposure, where the average cost of rabies post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) is US$40 in Africa, and US$49 in Asia, can be a catastrophic financial burden on affected families.

Every year, more than 15 million people worldwide receive a post-bite vaccination. This is estimated to prevent hundreds of thousands of rabies deaths annually.

If you have any information concerning the manufacture, distribution, or supply of these medical products please contact [email protected]

For further information from the WHO, please here.