Cancer Vaccine Scare Sparks Call For Calm

Cancer Vaccine Scare Sparks Call For Calm

The family of a woman who believes taking a widely-used vaccine left her in a wheelchair has said the jab has "ruined their lives".

There are concerns in France over the Gardasil injection to prevent cervical cancer - as a top medical expert appealed for calm.

In Britain, where it is offered to all girls between the ages of 12 and 13, the NHS estimates the programme saves 400 lives per year.

The chairman of the national committee overseeing vaccinations in France said there was no evidence to link the vaccine, administered against the human papilloma virus (HPV), to serious auto-immune conditions like multiple sclerosis.

Daniel Floret spoke after an 18-year-old woman filed a criminal complaint against Gardasil's French distributor, Sanofi Pasteur MSD.

She was vaccinated with Gardasil, aged 15, at the end of 2010 and claims within two months she developed symptoms including vertigo, vomiting, temporary loss of sight and the use of her legs, and facial paralysis.

She attended a news conference in Bordeaux, where she claimed she was barely able to see or hear.

Her father Jean-Jacques, 57, said: "I was consumed by rage. For something like that to happen to a child in good health - it has ruined our lives."

Her lawyer, Jean-Christophe Coubris, said she has been diagnosed as suffering from either an acute form of encephalomyelitis, a generalised inflammation of the immune system, or multiple sclerosis.

Her legal case seeks to establish the liability of both Sanofi and France's medicines safety agency (ANSM), arguing the latter body failed in its statutory duty of care when it authorised the vaccine.

Three other women, aged between 20 and 25, will file similar complaints within the next fortnight, their lawyer Camille Kouchner told the AFP news agency. The three women were all vaccinated between 2008 and 2010.

Two of them allegedly now suffer from a chronic skin condition known as Verneuil's disease or hidradenitis suppurativa.

The other has polymyositis, a generalised inflammation of the muscles that gradually leads to paralysis.

Mr Floret argued the formula had prevented many deaths from cancer, adding: "The fact that a complaint has been made does not mean there is a problem.

"We are putting all the focus on the potential side effects and forgetting what this vaccine brings.

"None of the international medical safety controls has showed up any link between this vaccine and any kind of auto-immune disease, and millions of doses have been administered."

Gardasil has been given to 2.3 million French adolescents and is licensed for use in 120 countries.

It is one of two blockbuster HPV vaccines used around the world on the basis of research showing a link between HPV and cervical, oral and anal cancer.

Sanofi Pasteur did not respond when contacted by Sky News for comment.

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