Finland  Pandemrix  Narcolepsy

THL Vaccine Department Head: Pandemrix vaccine probably caused narcolepsy, but not alone

(24th January, 2011) According to THL's (Finnish National Institute for Health and Welfare) Vaccine Department's head, Dr. Terhi Kilpi, the Pandemrix vaccine alone did not cause narcolepsy in Finnish children.

According to Dr Kilpi, the most probable explanation for increase in children's narcolepsy in Finland is that narcolepsy was triggered by the Pandemrix vaccine together with something else. Dr Kilpi says that ongoing investigations aim to find out whether the other factor is genes, H1N1 virus, some other virus or something else.

This is the first time a high-ranking Finnish vaccine official estimates that there is a causal association between narcolepsy and the Pandemrix vaccine. The statement came out in an interview in Finnish Medical Association's weekly journal, Finnish Medical Journal (Lääkärilehti), on 21st January (1). Dr Kilpi is also the Principal Investigator of studies trying to find out whether there's a causal association between the vaccine and narcolepsy.

Parents: We haven't sent hate mails

In the interview, Dr Kilpi states that "Hate emails stopped when an information day was arranged for parents". Talking also of "scary hate web sites", the article paints a picture of parents of narcoleptic children engaged in hate activities towards vaccine officials. Parents of narcoleptic children strongly deny the allegations as unfounded and disturbing in a medical association's journal and stress that no contacts to officials have been hostile or threatening, but requests to improve the children's wellbeing and aiming to fulfill the children's rights.

Parents also say they are surprised how Kilpi says in the interview that she has stressed the importance of facing the parents. According to the parents, Dr Kilpi has answered none of the emails or other contacts initiated by the parents. The parents will be exercising their legal "right of reply" right to publish their position printed in the journal. The journal did not try to contact parents before publishing the article, as is recommended by journalistic ethis in controversies like this.

Conflicts of interest of Dr Kilpi

The conflicts of interest of many roles of Dr Kilpi has been the topic of heated discussion and public protests by some activists, and has lead to demands that Dr Kilpi should resign.

In addition to leading the research whether the GlaxoSmithKline-manufactured Pandemrix vaccine has a causal association to narcolepsy, Dr Kilpi leads a pneumococcal vaccine trial funded by GlaxoSmithKline with more than 10 million euros. The Justice Chancellor of Finland, Jaakko Jonkka, is investigated the conflicts. Dr Kilpi also was a key individual in the decision to acquire the swine flu vaccine from GlaxoSmithKline. The interview in the Finnish Medical Journal covers the critique of Dr Kilpi and describes how she feels about it.

For more information: Rokotusinfo ry,

(1) Articles (slightly abridged in the net version) in Finnish Medical Association's Finnish Medical Journal (Lääkärilehti):