The. company is not aware of any harm to children who received the vaccine, known as Hib, which prevents meningitis and pneumonia. It is a three-dose shot recommended for all children under the age of five and is usually given to infants starting at two months old.
The recall involves 10 lots of Hib vaccine and two lots of a combination vaccine for both Hib and hepatitis B, a Merck spokeswoman said.
She said the company did not find contamination in the vaccine itself, but in the plant where the vaccine is produced in West Point, Pennsylvania.
Merck, based in Whitehouse Station, New Jersey, US, is one of the few drugmakers who produce a range of vaccines.
Medindia had reported Merck's tale of woe only last week - first it was the anti-arthritis Vioxx, then the osteoporosis drug Fosamax and then the cervical cancer vaccine Gardasil. We had quoted Australian newspapers saying that more than 17 girls a week were experiencing adverse reactions such as seizures and numbness, after taking Gardasil.
Five weeks ago, Merck reached a deal to settle up to 50,000 Vioxx lawsuits for $4.85 billion US, an amount expected to save the company millions in trial costs.
But its stock price has more than recovered from its post-Vioxx slump, a two-year-old restructuring plan is going well and profits are up. For example, Merck posted a 62 per cent increase in its third-quarter profit as revenues jumped by double digits, the company had said in its annual briefing Tuesday.
Still market watchers are wondering how the repeated recalls of its drugs would affect the company's fortunes.