Once again the Irish Independent is keeping tabs on the latest revelation that GlaxoSmithKline are facing legal action regarding their controversial vaccine trials carried out in the 1960's and 1970's on children.
The Adoption Rights Alliance have now joined the growing number of survivors and politicians calling for a new probe into the trials, which were conducted on behalf of Glaxo.
To make matters worse, an apparent investigation into these trials was carried out in 1993 by the Department of Health. Brendan Howlin, the then health minister, had said that he was "satisfied" that there was no added risk to the children who were involved.
This is where things start to take on a 'Constant Gardener' approach.
The results of this investigation have never been published and now the department cannot find the documents in its archives.
To put this into some sort of perspective, approximately 211 children took part in three separate vaccine trials in the 1960's and 1970's.
'Refers usually to the trying out of a substance or a material in order to determine its effect.'
As I understand it, these 211 children did not have to sign any consent form to such trials, in pretty much the same way that a rat and its pups do not have a voice when poked, prodded and injected in a laboratory.
So, were these Irish children merely lab rats?
I understand the need for human subjects in medicine trials, without humans the medicines/vaccines would never get past the regulator's and would not be granted a licence. It would, however, be courteous of a major pharmaceutical company such as GlaxoSmithKline to, at the very least, conduct such trials with written consent from their subjects or the subjects parents.
The three vaccine trials in question
Paddy Doyle, who runs the 'God Squad' website, pointed me to a letter sent to him by the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse (C.I.C.A) [Vaccine Trials Inquiry]
The first of these trials took place in 1960/1961 in 4 Mother-and Baby Homes, 1 Baby Home, and 1 Industrial School in the State. The purpose of the trial, in general terms, was to measure the effectiveness of a four-in-one vaccine against diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough and polio. The general practice at the time was to give a tree in one vaccine against the first three diseases, and to give the polio vaccine separately.
The second of the known vaccine trials took place between 1968 and 1970. It was carried out in and Industrial School in Dublin, and also involved children in the Midlands who were living at home. In general terms, the purpose of this trial was to assess the effectiveness of a rubella vaccine when administered nasally rather than by injection.
The third vaccine trial into which the Division has been statutorily mandated to inquire into took place in 1973. The subjects of this trial were children living at home in Dublin, as well as children residing in 5 institutions. In general terms, the purpose of this trial was to compare the reactions of children who were given commercially-available batches of 3 in 1 vaccines to the reactions of children who were given a modified vaccine of equivalent efficacy but of a lesser potency.
This letter sent to me and to many other people who were institutionalised during their childhood is far from satisfactory. The language contained in it is vague and there seems to be a willingness to accept that vaccine trials only took place in five institutions in the state.
I did telephone “the Division” and sought clarification of some aspects of their investigation. It is my view that the following questions need to be answered:
How would a young child between the age of say, four and ten years know what was being injected into them or what it was they were being asked to swallow.
Does “the Division” really believe the Multi National Drug companies will really come forward with their “hands up” and admit to having conducted drug trials. It is well known that large drug companies never volunteer such information. It is my view that “the Division” is naïve in believing that such information will be easily forthcoming.
Can we really expect that religious orders and others in whose care children were placed are going to admit that they did allow drug trials to be carried out in their institutions – I very much doubt it.
Most people are now familiar with the cover-up regarding sexual, psychological and emotional abuse, which was an every day occurrence in institutions all over Ireland. Can we realistically expect that admissions of other abuses will be admitted to? I think not!
“The Division” did offer to send me a copy of a report entitled:
Report on 3 Clinical Trials involving babies and children in institutional settings 1960/’61, 1970 and 1973 (This report is stamped with the official stamp of the Commission to Inquire into Child abuse and is dated 04 June 2002) I have transcribed the report as part of this important debate.
Many other questions need to be asked and regarding the vaccination of children in “care” Questions such as: How many children were exposed to drug trials or even experimental surgery once they had been admitted to hospital. While these questions are not within the remit of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse, perhaps they should be included in the Commissions Terms of Reference.
It appears to many people who were institutionalised and abused that little or nothing is happening to speed up the Inquiry or Compensation process through the Residential Institutions Redress Board R.I.R.B.
The patience of any individual is not something that is infinite. Questions need to be asked and answers must be given.
I have to echo Paddy Doyle's sentiments here, he raises some very valid and pertinent questions, all of which need answering.
Paddy Doyle's 'God Squad' website is a treasure trove of information regarding the vaccine trials carried out back in the 60's and 70's and anyone that has took an interest in this case should take some time to visit and read his research.
Meantime, the public will just have to wait for the Department of Health to find these 'missing' documents and the 211 children [now adults] will have to endure yet more torture as they wait for 'Da Man' to get his finger out of his ass and take his gear stick out of neutral and actually show some human empathy.
I suspect, as is with investigations into GlaxoSmithKline, that they will be waiting a very long time indeed.
Further reading: - The God Squad
Glaxo's corporate motto is:
"GlaxoSmithKline, a leading healthcare company that helps people to do more, feel better and live longer."
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