Tuesday, 2 October 2018
Department of Health
319. To ask the Minister for Health if he will commission an investigation into the Pandemrix vaccine in view of the recent revelations published in a journal (details supplied) regarding same; and if he will clarify comments made in Dáil Éireann. [39888/18]
I cannot comment on individual cases or matters that are the subject of litigation, one of which is a case managed by the High Court concerning the issue of Discovery. However, I can provide background information on this litigation and clarify matters that are already in the public domain.
As of 24 September 2018, letters of potential claims against the Minister, the Health Services Executive and GlaxoSmithKline Biological SA have been initiated by seventy three individuals and in 61 of these cases formal legal proceedings have been issued. The plaintiffs allege personal injury in which they claim the development of narcolepsy resulted from the administration of the H1N1 pandemic vaccine.
The management of these cases transferred to the State Claims Agency on 15 October 2013 when the Taoiseach signed the National Treasury Management Agency (Delegation of Claims Management Functions) (Amendment) Order 2013. It would not be appropriate for me as Minister to interfere in the management of these claims which are delegated to the State Claims Agency.
It should also be observed that the European Medicines Agency has formally responded to the British Medical Journal (BMJ) publication referred to in the question, stating that it considers that the article misrepresents the work of the European Medicines Agency and draws incorrect conclusions based on scientifically invalid comparisons of data. The Agency has described the conclusions in the BMJ article as flawed and misleading to readers and the wider public.
My main priority as Minister for Health is that individuals and families affected receive appropriate health and social care supports. My Department continues to engage with the HSE, the Department of Education and Skills, and the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection to ensure the provision of a range of services and supports, on an ex-gratia basis. The HSE’s Advocacy Unit acts as liaison with other service providers and Government Departments to facilitate access to required services. It is in regular contact with the individuals affected and their families; and regional co-ordinators have been appointed to assist by providing advice, information and access to local services.
I continue to engage with the Minister for Justice and the Minister for Finance on what further improvements can be made to the legal framework governing the management of, inter alia, certain vaccine damage cases.
I wish to acknowledge the impact on the lives of these people and families affected by narcolepsy and reiterate my commitment to the on-going provision of appropriate services and supports.