Sole Lyme Vaccine Is Pulled Off Market

Sole Lyme Vaccine Is Pulled Off Market

Published: February 28, 2002

With tick season approaching, the maker of the nation's only vaccine against Lyme disease pulled it off the market, citing poor sales.

The vaccine, Lymerix, had caused controversy in recent years, as patients said they were sickened by it and asked the government to restrict sales. Some filed lawsuits against the maker, GlaxoSmithKline.

Federal health officials said Tuesday that they had found no evidence the vaccine was dangerous. They urged people in Lyme-plagued states to take precautions against the ticks that spread the disease.

Lymerix had $40 million in sales its first year on the market, and hundreds of thousands were vaccinated. But GlaxoSmithKline projected that fewer than 10,000 people would seek vaccination this year, and ended sales because ''there's just no demand for it,'' a company spokeswoman, Ramona Dubose, said.

Lyme disease is spread by ticks that live in wooded and grassy areas nationwide, but especially in the Northeast, from Maryland to Maine, and in Wisconsin and Minnesota. It causes fatigue, fevers and joint pain that can persist for weeks. Some patients develop severe arthritis. If not treated with antibiotics, Lyme disease can severely damage the heart and nervous systems.

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