vaccine trials were kept secret by the State
under pressure to order full investigation
Independent, Friday August 27 2010
Government was told about secret vaccine trials at least six years ago
but has refused to investigate them ever since.
Irish Independent can reveal that the pharmaceutical giant
GlaxoSmithKline -- the firm that was behind controversial vaccine trials
on children in state care during the 1960s and 1970s -- handed over
records relating to the tests to a child-abuse inquiry in 2004.
revelations have piled pressure on Health Minister Mary Harney to launch
an independent probe into the contents of the documents.
Department of Health admitted last night that its officials have been
"in discussions" with the Commission to Inquire into Child
Abuse about what to do with the records.
the documents only show that "other vaccine trials" took
place, it is so far not known how many other people were involved,
whether children in state care were used for the trials or what
medicines were tested.
adoption groups and opposition parties are now demanding a full
investigation into all the vaccine trials on children in state care.
declined to comment. Its silence has raised serious concerns about the
nature of the medical tests.
concerns have deepened as the department has so far failed to answer
questions on the issue.
newspaper put a series of questions to Ms Harney's officials this week.
No answers were forthcoming.
many vaccine trials in total were conducted?
children in care used in the trials and what consent was given for
if any, are the long-term medical effects of the trials on the
has the State refused to investigate the contents of the files?
has the Department of Health still not made a decision on what to do
with the documents, despite being aware of them for a number of
part of its work, the commission requested information on three
confirmed trials carried out by The Wellcome Foundation, a company that
later merged with other firms to create GlaxoSmithKline.
trials involved 211 infants and babies and were carried out in mother
and baby homes and children's residential homes across the country in
order to test new vaccines.
remains unclear whether the parents or guardians of the children
involved had consented to the trials or whether the company had complied
with Irish licensing legislation.
well as these tests, details of further, previously unknown trials, were
also handed over to the commission by GlaxoSmithKline. A brief -- and
unreported -- paragraph in the commission's Third Interim Report,
published in January 2004, confirmed the receipt of the additional
documentation discovered by GlaxoSmithKline also disclosed a
considerable amount of information in relation to other vaccine trials
in the State," the report said.
stated that no decision had been taken on whether the extra trials could
be investigated. In the end, no such investigation took place.
June 2006, Ms Harney instructed departmental officials to discuss with
the commission what should be done with the documents.
spokeswoman for the commission confirmed that no decision was ever made.
commission is not at liberty to release the files publicly without the
approval of the department.
agencies last night led calls for an independent inquiry into the
Lohan, co-founder of the Adoption Rights Alliance, said: "I'm
flabbergasted that the State and the adoption authority didn't know the
extent to which vaccine trials were being used in this country.
am calling on the Government to ask the commission to hand over this new
evidence to an independent inquiry, where it can be investigated
immediately and authoritatively."
Gael children's spokesman Charlie Flanagan said: "The Government
needs to direct the commission to hand over this new evidence to be
examined by the Oireachtas Health Committee.
based on the outcome of this, a national investigation needs to be held
in order to gauge the extent of the vaccine scandal."
spokeswoman for the commission said last night that it was prevented
from investigating the vaccine trials on foot of two court cases taken
by the doctors involved in the tests.
vaccine module of the commission was closed down by Health Minister Mary
Harney in 2006 on foot of that legal action.
Harney said the issue of the vaccine trials was no longer a matter for
the commission, which issued a report last year and is no longer
investigating abuse claims.
refused to comment the calls for an independent inquiry or for the
referral of the documents to the Oireachtas Health Committee.
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