Private Eye (NO URL)
7 February - 20 February 2003
Campaigners for drug and vaccine safety have long complained that the yellow-card system - by which doctors fill in a card recording adverse reactions and return it to the Medicines Control Agency - catches only a small fraction of adverse events.
Research by the government's own public health laboratory service (PHLS) eight years ago comparing hospital admissions with vaccination records picked up five times as many reactions to vaccines than reported by the yellow card system.
In the Eye's special report MMR: The story so far, we suggested that yellow cards completely failed to alert health chiefs to the meningitis outbreaks being triggered by an early form of MMR vaccine which was subsequently withdrawn. But despite official knowledge of the system's shortcomings, nothing was done to change it. Until now.
The national audit office (NAO) has found that three-quarters of adverse drug reactions go unreported, often because GPs and hospital doctors are too busy, do not understand the thresholds for what constitutes a ''serious reaction'' or consider the system too complicated. It criticises the MCA, which regulates the safety, quality and effectiveness of medicines for not routinely monitoring its safety warnings based on these adverse reports.
Critics have long argued that patient information suffers because of a conflict between the MCA public health role and its role in promoting the UK pharmaceutical industry (it is totally funded by the industry). It remains to be seen if plans to create a new medicines and healthcare products regulatory agency will, as the NAO recommends, minimise the potential for such a conflict of interest and whether some element of government funding will be needed.
Okay, I need some help. We have begun the process of filing a claim with the vaccine injury compensation program (US). My husband is quite skiddish - and is convinced we are going to get a huge legal bill somehow. Has anyone been through this process and can share their wisdom and experience? Based on the statistics of how many claimants actually are awarded compensation our chances are not good since we are filing for an off-the-table injury. However, I am adamant about pursuing this because I want our rights preserved for a future civil lawsuit should our son not fully recover (He lost the ability to speak after the MMR, grunted (NO speech sounds) for the next 14 months, and his last diagnosis was severe phonological disorder. We believe he suffered side effects from the thimerosal which contributed to his system not being able to handle the MMR with then resulted in encephalopathy. Of course XXXXX's doctor at the time said (condescendingly) there is no relationship between vaccines and your son's speech problems. It has been a long, slow, angry, sad process with us as parents having to figure all this out (some doctors here in KY seem to think that there is no such thing as adverse vaccine reactions). Speech problems seem to be accepted as an accepted variation of normal development. And I am sure we will be told that he is just a late talker, etc. We had to file the VAERS ourselves. We have sought MD care now out-of-state. So I could use some help as we begin this process. We have not talked to any other parents that have been down this path and we would like to know what to expect.