What Was Burroughs Wellcome’s (GSK’s) Involvement In Ireland’s Orphan Guinea Pig Scandal?…

Burroughs Wellcome was a huge pharmaceutical company which merged with Glaxo in 1995 to become Glaxo Wellcome- this eventually then became GlaxoSmithKline.

The history of SmithKline Beecham, is also entwined into GSK due to a merger.

Ireland’s guinea pig orphan scandal, first reported in 2014 (involving Burroughs Wellcome) has recently reared its ugly head in the media again.

This article, from last year, gives some context:


“…Following this, the government opted to extend the terms of reference of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse. This was done despite objections that the trials could not adequately be dealt with by an inquiry looking primarily into physical and sexual abuse.

The ‘vaccines module’ of Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse began investigating in early 2002. It obtained documentation from GlaxoSmithKline — the successor of Wellcome — and identified the names and addresses of some of those involved in the trials. It was shut down following a 2002 Supreme Court ruling which upheld Prof Meenan’s challenge against a High Court order directing him to give evidence before the inquiry.

Revelations in the years that followed showed Wellcome-sponsored trials in Ireland spanned almost half a century and involved dozens of institutions and thousands of children.

Despite this, the company itself has only acknowledged four such trials.

The report of the Inter-Departmental Group on Mother-and-Baby Homes, published in 2014, still referred only to three vaccine trials. Yet a fourth was admitted by GSK in 2011, and the 1930-35 trials of a Burroughs Wellcome vaccine for diphtheria, carried out on 2,000 children in residential institutions, were uncovered by Michael Dwyer of UCC’s School of History just a month before publication of the report.

It also failed to mention the 1965 trial of a 5-in-1 vaccine carried out on Philip Delaney at Bessborough…”

‘Pharma giant kept a file on all my activities’

– Conall Ó Fátharta

Mari Steed, who was adopted in the US from Bessborough Mother and Baby Home, only discovered in the late 1990s she was a victim of the 1960/61 vaccine trial, 4-in-1, when she was trying to trace her natural mother.

A handwritten note on her medical file released to her by the nuns confirmed she was given three injections for the 4-in-1 vaccine, the third of which was “given by Prof Hillary”. This entry is immediately followed by: “Baby to America.”

“I knew from my reading of the materials available on the Child Abuse Commission’s (CICA) website that Dr Irene Hillery was one of the UCD researchers involved in the vaccine trials, so that was a red flag,” she said.

After this, Ms Steed submitted a CICA questionnaire in 2001 to see if she could confirm her suspicions. Shortly afterwards, she managed to trace her natural mother Josephine, who confirmed she knew nothing about the vaccine trials and had never given consent for her daughter to be a part of any medical trial.

“I asked her if she were aware of any trials, and she confirmed she wasn’t. She just assumed we were all given routine vaccinations and that nothing was out of the norm. She confirmed on multiple occasions that her permission was never sought. I asked if she would be interested in testifying to the CICA and she said she would. We made arrangements to meet with their legal team in October 2002.”

“We met barrister [now Judge] Eithne Murphy and a team of solicitors who had gathered records from Bessborough and were meeting with suspected victims of the trials. It was a very relaxed, non-confrontational, meeting and one of the solicitors made plans to take a full deposition from my mother in the comfort of her home in the UK later. I was copied on the letter making those arrangements but, shortly after the letter was issued, the vaccines trials investigation was shut down permanently.”

There it lay until 2011 when Ms Steed made a series of Freedom of Information and Data Protection requests to the HSE (who then held the Bessborough records) and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK).

It was at this point she discovered the pharmaceutical giant had kept a substantial file on her — and not all of it related to her medical records. Referred to as “GSK 36” in some material released to her, the records finally confirmed her participation in the trial. However, the company also had a file monitoring media appearances she made talking about the issue.

This included press cuttings from a range of newspaper interviews given by Ms Steed — some given nearly 10 years apart. Also included were typed transcripts from a number of different radio interviews.

“The file from GSK was slim but contained what was needed to confirm my participation. Oddly, it also included news clippings of my engagement with the media on the topic of the vaccine trials. It felt a bit odd and creepy to know a major pharmaceutical company had been keeping tabs on my activities. But both the HSE and GSK were transparent and forthcoming in their dealings with me,” she said.

Ms Steed admitted she was shocked by revelations in the Irish Examiner that vaccine files, including files relating to her mother, were altered.

“I can only imagine that mothers’ consent will be the big issue here. As far as I know, I’ve suffered no ill health as a result of what I was given. But for the order or GSK to admit that mothers’ consent was never sought will be huge. It would be in the order’s interest to alter files to make it appear that mothers were not on the premises and unreachable to give consent, or alter dates of vaccines to make it appear they were given after a mother left,” she said.


Burroughs Wellcome’s involvement in these atrocious trials casts another shadow upon GSK.

What have they got in their files?

It is GSK’s responsibility to explain what exactly happened here…

What happened to these orphans?

This is a recent article explaining what is happening with the investigation into these guinea pig orphans, used by Burroughs Wellcome for unethical vaccine trials…

A Mass Infant Grave Was Found at a Former Irish Orphanage

Mar 03, 2017

DUBLIN — Forensics experts say they have found a mass grave for young children at a former Catholic orphanage in Ireland where suspicions of unrecorded, unmarked burials have lingered for decades.

Friday’s announcement by the government-appointed Mother and Baby Homes Commission confirms a 2014 investigation by a local historian who found death certificates for nearly 800 children who died at the home in Tuam, County Galway, from its opening in 1925 to its 1961 closure.

The commission says excavations at the site from November to January found an underground structure divided into 20 chambers containing “significant quantities of human remains.”

It says DNA analysis of selected remains confirmed the ages of the dead ranged from 35 weeks to 3 years old and were buried when the orphanage was operating.



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