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Spain regulator halts sale of some Novartis flu vaccines

MADRID (Reuters) - Spain joined other European countries in halting the sale of anti-influenza vaccines made by Swiss group Novartis, after small particles were found in some of the injections.

Spain will halt the sale of all the Chiromas and Chiroflu vaccines, produced by Novartis in Italy, the Spanish Medicines and Health Products Agency (AEMPS) said in a statement on Thursday.

Spain follows Italy, where the sale and use of four anti-flu vaccines produced by Novartis was banned on Wednesday pending tests for possible side effects after white floating material was discovered in some vaccines.

"Some of the affected batches have already been sold in Spain and other European countries, without any recorded increase in adverse reactions," the AEMPS said in a statement.

"Nevertheless, as a precautionary measure and until there is a full report detailing the origin and extent of the problem, we have decided to halt all specimens of both vaccines."

Switzerland has also taken precautionary measures, while Germany's vaccination agency said on Thursday some Novartis vaccines should not be used and that the Swiss drugmaker had agreed to recall them.

Novartis Chief Executive Joseph Jimenez said on Thursday he was confident the vaccines are safe and added he did not expect other countries to take action.

(Reporting by Clare Kane; Editing by David Holmes)

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