Some of the views expressed in the following notes on newly approved products should be regarded as preliminary, as there may have been limited published data at the time of publication, and little experience in Australia of their safety or efficacy. However, the Editorial Executive Committee believes that comments made in good faith at an early stage may still be of value. Before new drugs are prescribed, the Committee believes it is important that more detailed information is obtained from the manufacturer's approved product information, a drug information centre or some other appropriate source.
vials containing lyophilised powder for reconstitution
Approved indication: rabies prophylaxis and treatment
Australian Medicines Handbook section 20.1
Rabies is caused by a lyssavirus and usually occurs after a bite by a rabid dog. A similar illness can result from infection with Australian bat lyssavirus.
Rabies vaccine is used prophylactically for people who will spend a prolonged time in areas where rabies is endemic. It is also used with immunoglobulin in the management of people who have been exposed to the virus.
This product differs from the currently available vaccine in that a different strain of virus is used and it is prepared using chick embryo cells rather than human diploid cells. Both vaccines will produce adequate amounts of antibody after the series of three injections.
Several injections are required for post-exposure prophylaxis. Protective antibody titres can be achieved within 14 days if the recommended regimen is followed.
People with a continuing risk of exposure to rabies may need a booster dose every 2-5 years to maintain their immunity. Some people developed serum sickness after boosters of diploid cell vaccines. It is uncertain if this will be a problem with the chick embryo vaccine, but it is approved for use as a booster in people previously immunised with diploid cell vaccine.
Many people will get pain at the injection site. Other reactions include headache, myalgia and rash. Rarely a vaccinee may develop anaphylaxis or a neurological disorder such as Guillain-Barré syndrome.
The Transparency Score () is explained in New drugs: transparency', Vol 37 No 1, Aust Prescr 2014;37:27.