News that almost 800 bodies of babies had been found in a septic tank in Ireland surfaced last week. Now known as the 'Irish Baby Graves Scandal', 796 babies are thought to have been interred alongside what was called "The Home", run by Bon Secours nuns in Tuam. The proprietors took in "fallen women" and "illegitimate children" between the 1920's and 1960's.
The story has been linked to a vaccine clinical trial from the 1930's. The International Business Times writes...
Over 2,000 babies and young children at a number of Irish orphanages linked to the mass baby graves scandal were injected with a vaccine for diphtheria in the 1930s, it has been revealed. The children were used as guinea pigs on behalf of drugs giant Burroughs Wellcome. No evidence of consent has been discovered and there are no records of how many children became ill or died as a result.
Burroughs Wellcome, later subsumed into drugs giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK)
Many are sickened by this news and both GSK and the Catholic church have come under fire.
It's a story, however, that isn't as fresh as what the mainstream press are letting on.
Four years ago, in 2010, the Irish Independent reported that legal action was being planned against GlaxoSmithKline and the Sacred Heart Order, which allowed the tests at the Bessborough Mother and Baby Home in Cork.
Campaigner and abuse survivor John Barrett alleged that was used in four different experiments when he was aged 12 and 13 at the Lota home.
He said: "All of the boys of my age were taken off and given tests, X-rays and general examinations.
"Lists were made of those deemed to be 'healthy' and we would sometimes be lined up in one of the dormitories and given massive injections."
At the time of these revelations the then Irish Health Minister, Mary Harney, was called on to instruct her officials to make available all relevant information regarding the ongoing vaccine trials.
The call, according to the Irish Times, came as a result of Mari Steed, 50, breaking her silence into how she was subjected to a controversial vaccine trial as a baby without her mother's consent.
She said she the trial were carried out on her between December 1960 and October 1961, when she was between nine and 18 months old.
Ms Steed, who in 2010 was living in the US, and three others, were preparing to take legal action in US courts against GlaxoSmithKline.
Whatever came of that legal action?
Moreover, did the then Irish Health Minister, Mary Harney secure all relevant information regarding the ongoing vaccine trials?
Do GlaxoSmithKline still hold records that belonged to Burroughs Wellcome, if so, why haven't these documents been released to investigators?
Why, four years on are we still asking for these documents and why, four years on, are GlaxoSmithKline being quoted as saying, “The activities that have been described to us date back over 70 years and, if true, are clearly very distressing.
“We would need further details to investigate what actually took place, but the practices outlined certainly don’t reflect how modern clinical trials are carried out. We conduct our trials to the same high scientific and ethical standards, no matter where in the world they are run.”
Was the investigation four years ago brushed under the carpet, was an out of court settlement made to those who intended to file a lawsuit in the US?
Who, exactly, is at fault here, is it the Irish government, the Catholic church or GlaxoSmithKline?
Not much is known about these clinical trials, the whole scandal seems to have been put to bed for the last four years...only to resurface again with the 'Irish Baby Graves Scandal'.
A good source of information can be found on Paddy Doyle's website, The God Squad. Paddy has been investigating the whole sordid affair for sometime now.
In the meantime we wait for Glaxo to get the "further details to investigate what actually took place".
Don't hold your breath folks.
Pressure mounts for GSK [inquiry into trials of vaccines]