UK babies given toxic vaccines,
Antony Barnett and Tracy McVeigh
Sunday June 30, 2002
British drug giant GlaxoSmithKline has finally admitted that
thousands of babies in this country were inoculated with a batch of
toxic whooping cough vaccines in the 1970s.
Some experts believe that these Trivax vaccines - which had not
passed critical company safety tests - may have caused permanent
brain damage and even fatalities in young children.
In 1992, the family of an Irish boy, Kenneth Best, who suffered brain
damage from one of these toxic vaccines, was awarded £2.7 million in
compensation by the Irish Supreme Court.
Despite a long and fierce battle with the drug giant, the boy's
family finally won this historic case after his mother Margaret made
a startling find when sifting through tens of thousands of company
She discovered that the Trivax vaccine used on her son, from a batch
numbered 3,741, had been released by the company despite it having
failed to pass a critical safety test. Documents revealed that the
60,000 individual doses within this batch were known to be 14 times
more potent than normal.
At the time the Irish judge accused GlaxoSmithKline - then known as
Glaxo Wellcome - of negligence and attacked the company's poor
quality control at its Kent laboratory. Immunology experts condemned
Glaxo in court for what one US scientist described as
an 'extraordinary event'.
Last year an investigation by The Observer found evidence to suggest
that vaccines from this faulty batch, which may have wrecked Kenneth
Best's life, had also been used in Britain.
Liberal Democrat MP Norman Baker raised questions in the House of
Commons, asking whether vaccines from this batch had been given to
British babies. Then Health Minister Yvette Cooper wrote to the
company asking for information.
Now, almost a year later, GlaxoSmithKline has replied that it
is 'highly probable' the toxic batches had been used in Britain.
The Department of Health is under pressure to make efforts to trace
the children who received the suspect vaccines.
Last week in the House of Commons, Health Minister Hazel Blears
said: 'Unfortunately they no longer have details of the quantitites
of vaccine or the places where the vaccine was supplied.
'Since vaccines were not centrally purchased and distributed at that
time there are no central records either. Information on individuals
who received these vaccines will only exist if the general practioner
at the time of the immunisation recorded the batch number and the
patient's notes are still available.'
Baker will now write to the Minister to demand that she asks health
authorities to check the records to find out who received the
vaccine. It is believed that at least one boy from Wales died after
receiving a jab from toxic batch 3,741, although the parents have
never been informed.
A spokesman for GlaxoSmithKline told The Observer : 'We do not accept
that these batches were harmful.'
>From the archive: Observer investigation
08.07.2001: Baby deaths may be linked to toxic vaccine
08.07.2001: Focus: Did toxic vaccines ruin lives?
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