Pandemrix and narcolepsy
Where is the outrage? GlaxoSmithKline suppressed clear danger signals from vaccination with Pandemrix. The result, to begin with, was the suffering of a large number of children and adolescents who developed narcolepsy. Peter Doshi is to be commended for dispassionate reporting of the facts, but I am frustrated by his cool rhetoric in the face of what I believe are acts of greed and cruelty.
The facts reported by Doshi are new, but the pattern of behavior is not. The manufacturers and their professional surrogates are past masters at doing research that shows short-term vaccine efficacy but that does not reveal serious adverse effects. They always end up saying, as in this case, that “there is no proof of a causal association.” Such behavior might be forgiven if influenza vaccines were real lifesavers, but we still do not know if they have done more good than harm in the long run. I am not alone in making this assertion.
Not long ago Gaffney and Lexchin said that US and Canadian pharmaceutical systems, “…are dysfunctional. Costs are exorbitant, commercial goals distort drug development, misleading promotion fosters misuse, and medications are too often unaffordable for patients.” (BMJ 2018;361:k1039) Much the same can be said for the development and promotion of vaccines in the last 10-15 years.
I get frustrated and angry about the promotion of some drugs and vaccines, but I am saved from despair by the efforts of professionals like Doshi and his colleagues who keep plugging away at the facts.
Allan S. Cunningham
Competing interests: No competing interests