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Narcolepsy Fears Fuel Vaccine Probe

August 28, 2010

Concerns among officials in Finland and Sweden over possible links between narcolepsy and the Pandemrix swine flu vaccine have caused the European Medicines Agency (EMA) to launch an investigation into the matter.

“The European Medicines Agency has launched a review of Pandemrix on the request of the European Commission to investigate whether there is a link between cases of narcolepsy and vaccination with Pandemrix,” said the EMA.

The London-based agency added that only a handful of cases were reported, all collected mainly in Finland and Sweden.

Finland’s National Institute for Health and Welfare on Tuesday recommended stopping the sale and use of Pandemrix until a probe into the possible link to narcolepsy in children is concluded.

Sweden’s Medical Products Agency last week opened an inquiry into the vaccine following reports of young people having developed symptoms consistent with narcolepsy after receiving a shot.

Narcolepsy, a condition in which sufferers suddenly fall into a deep sleep, is typically “considered to be triggered by a combination of genetic and environmental factors, including infections,” the EMA told AFP.

It added that Pandemrix, produced by GlaxoSmithKline, has been used since September 2009 for vaccinations against swine flu for more than 30 million Europeans.

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