Swine flu vaccine case settled but hopes for legal precedent dashed

The Guardian 2 weeks ago

The Irish government has settled a legal case with a woman who said she developed narcolepsy as a result of a swine flu vaccine.

The health minister and the health service executive agreed to compensate and pay the full legal costs of Aoife Bennett, 27, who received the Pandemrix vaccine in school in 2009 as part of a state campaign against swine flu.

The settlement, reached via mediation on Tuesday, ended what promised to be a protracted case at the high court in Dublin.

Details of the compensation were not disclosed and the state admitted no liability, which will come as a blow to dozens of other people with narcolepsy who are considering similar cases and had hoped for a legal precedent.

In 2017, the UK high court rejected a British government appeal to withhold payments to dozens of British children who developed the sleeping disorder after swine flu vaccines.

Six million people in Britain, and more across Europe, were given the Pandemrix vaccine made by GlaxoSmithKline during the 2009-10 swine flu pandemic, but the jab was withdrawn after doctors noticed a sharp rise in narcolepsy among those who received it.

Bennett told RTE on Wednesday that she was active and athletic until being vaccinated in December 2009. About two weeks later the side-effects began, she said. “Things changed very drastically.” She felt “like a sloth” and became fatigued, disoriented and prone to collapse.

She expressed dismay that it took seven years of legal proceedings to obtain compensation.

The defendants in the case were GlaxoSmithKline Biologicals, the health service executive, the minister for health and the health products regulatory authority, formerly the Irish medicines board.

All claims made in the case were denied. No orders were made against the pharmaceutical giant nor the regulatory authority.

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