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Monday 24th June 2019

Narcolepsy risk linked to swine flu jab

22nd July 2011

A warning has been issued over a link between a swine flu vaccine and rare cases of the sleeping disorder narcolepsy.


The European Medicines Agency (EMA) said Pandemrix – which has been given to more than six million people in the UK and 31m people worldwide - should only be given to children and teenagers at risk of H1N1 flu if other jabs are unavailable.

So far, 10 suspected cases of narcolepsy linked to the vaccine have been reported to the UK’s drug regulator.

Pandemrix is made by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and during the 2000/10 swine flu pandemic, it was the most widely used vaccine for the outbreak in the UK.

It is, however, no longer in use and the remaining stocks will be destroyed.

The EMA carried out an investigation after reports of children and young people falling asleep suddenly.

While most cases highlighted were in Finland and Sweden, there were cases from Iceland and the UK.

Evidence has revealed a six to 13-fold increased risk of narcolepsy in children and adolescents vaccinated with Pandemrix compared with unvaccinated children.

The EMA said it had noted that the vaccine was likely to have interacted with genetic or environmental factors "which might raise the risk of narcolepsy, and that other factors may have contributed to the results".

The UK drug regulator the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has been fully involved in the European safety review of Pandemrix vaccine.

A spokesperson said its view was that the vaccines have not been associated with the development of narcolepsy.


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