THE Scottish Government and Department of Health amended public information leaflets and websites about the decision to vaccinate schoolgirls against cervical cancer after the intervention of a drug company.
Internal documents, released to The Scotsman under Freedom of Information laws, show the extent to which the advice was changed. Sanofi Pasteur MSD, which makes Gardasil – a rival vaccine to Cervarix – said many claims in the initial publicity referred to its own drug and not Cervarix.
Following correspondence, Sanofi’s medical director said: “The Department of Health (has] agreed to modify the wording in a number of places… in order not to mislead potential vaccinees and other involved parties.”
But according to exchanges between NHS Health Scotland, Health Protection Scotland and the Department of Health, by this point inaccurate information packs had already been sent to healthcare professionals. “(Our] professional pack materials are labelled draft, and have already been distributed. However, this does affect our public materials,” says an e-mail from NHS Health Scotland’s immunisation co-ordinator.
The Department of Health made a number of proposals to change to the UK-wide advice in the Beating Cervical Cancer leaflet. An e-mail from a member of NHS Immunisation Information to relevant officials across the UK listed two significant changes. In the first one, the original wording “The vaccine has been tested on hundreds of thousands of females aged nine to 26 years around the world with no serious side-effects caused by the vaccine” was changed to: “The vaccine meets the rigorous safety standards required for it to be used in the UK and other European countries.”
Another alteration led to the following words: “Hundreds of thousands of young women in the USA and other countries have already had their vaccinations. Studies have shown that the vaccination is very safe” changed to: “The vaccine meets the rigorous safety standards required for it to be used in the UK and other European countries.”
Source: news.scotmans.com, 1st June 2009.
VAN UK’S Comment: It’s a pity the government didn’t amend them in light of so many girls becoming chronically ill. It had to be done because of a competing drug company. Really shows you who runs the show.