European swine flu vaccine linked to narcolepsy cases

With the flu outbreak intensifying in the northeast, more people are seeking vaccinations. This is normally a safe and predictable ritual of winter. However, this year's flu shots could lead to unintended (and severe) consequences.

According to a Reuters news report, vaccines created by British drug maker GlaxoSmithKline have led to more than 800 children across Europe developing narcolepsy, a sleep disorder where people cannot control how (or when) they fall asleep. The vaccine, Pandemrix, was originally used to combat the swine flu epidemic in 2009, and the spike in narcolepsy cases was found in children living in Finland, Ireland, Norway and France.

Reuters also reports that the Pandemrix vaccine was given to more than 30 million people in 47 countries. Because it included a booster (also known as an adjuvant) it was not used in the United States. Nevertheless, questions abound regarding the connections between the vaccine and narcolepsy cases.

The story underscores the importance for drug makers to create drugs and vaccines that are free from undisclosed hazards. As a matter of law, drug makers have a duty to make certain that their products are safe for their intended uses. Essentially, patients should be able to take a flu vaccine without the specter of contracting other ailments.

Should a drug manufacturer offer a drug to the market without testing whether it is safe (or ignoring safety defects) they could be held legally responsible for those who are sickened or injured by the drug. If you have been harmed by a flu vaccine, or by any other prescription drug, an experienced personal injury attorney can advise you.

Source: Reuters.com, Evidence grows for narcolepsy link to GSK swine flu shot, January 22, 2013

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