Tuesday, April 5, 2011

GPs must return flu vaccine over narcolepsy fears/ Independent

In early January, Ireland's Health Service Executive advised doctors to use the Pandemrix (GSK) brand of swine flu vaccine only in the event they ran out of seasonal flu vaccine.  This is the brand linked to narcolepsy cases.

Apparently that warning was not sufficient.  On April 3 Ireland's Health Service informed doctors that they would be coming to the offices of all GPs to remove any remaining Pandemrix vaccine stock:
The Heath Service Executive (HSE) will remove all stocks of the swine flu vaccine Pandemrix from GPs' surgeries, the Sunday Independent has learned.
The vaccine has been linked to the disabling sleep disorder, narcolepsy...
Sweden's Medical Products Agency concluded that those under 20 vaccinated with Pandemrix may be four times as likely to develop narcolepsy than those who did not get the shot. 
The Swedish findings by the Lakemedelsverket agency broadly reflect a recent study in Finland, though that investigation found that the risk of children suffering from narcolepsy was nine times higher among those vaccinated with Pandemrix.
Since August 2010, at least 12 countries have reported cases of narcolepsy, particularly among young people...
GPs are told in the HSE directive that while there has been an increase in narcolepsy in Finland and Sweden, it has not been noted in all countries using Pandemrix.
"No increase has been seen in the United Kingdom, which also used Pandemrix," the briefing document noted.
The European Centre for Disease Control is undertaking a study in nine European countries, with the results expected by July this year.
"The European Medicines Agency has stated that no definitive conclusions can be drawn until further studies are completed and has therefore not recommended any changes to the marketing authorisation for Pandemrix," it said.
Here, the Health Protection Surveillance Centre will now work with the IMB to examine data available on narcolepsy in Ireland.
"In summary, there has been conflicting data emerging in relation to narcolepsy and the situation is as yet unclear," the HSE told Irish doctors.

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