Finnish health authorities see link between Pandemrix and narcolepsy

By Liz Jones Hollis

Finland’s National Institute for Health and Welfare says there is a link between GlaxoSmithKline’s Pandemrix flu vaccine and a spike in narcolepsy cases. Narcolepsy is a disorder that causes a person to fall asleep suddenly and unexpectedly.

“Among those 4-19 years of age who received Pandemrix-vaccine had a manifold increased risk of falling ill with narcolepsy during the eight months following vaccination in comparison to those unvaccinated in the same age group,” the health body says in a release. “Based on the evaluation done so far, the National Narcolepsy Task Force finds it probable that Pandemrix-vaccination contributed to the observed increase in incidence of narcolepsy among those 4-19 years of age.”

In addition to Finland, an increase in narcolepsy cases was observed in Sweden and Iceland. These preliminary results will be confirmed in Finland in coming months. The Finnish Pharmaceutical Insurance Pool already has said compensation would not be paid on the basis of the preliminary report, the Helsinki Times notes. The body, which is made up of three insurance companies, said 15 claims involving Pandemrix and narcolepsy had been filed.

The World Health Organization was quick to react to the news. “WHO agrees that further investigation is required concerning narcolepsy and Pandemrix vaccine,” the World Health Organization said in a statement.

Finland’s National Institute for Health and Welfare says there is a link between GlaxoSmithKline’s Pandemrix flu vaccine and a spike in narcolepsy cases. Narcolepsy is a disorder that causes a person to fall asleep suddenly and unexpectedly.

“Among those 4-19 years of age who received Pandemrix-vaccine had a manifold increased risk of falling ill with narcolepsy during the eight months following vaccination in comparison to those unvaccinated in the same age group,” the health body says in a release. “Based on the evaluation done so far, the National Narcolepsy Task Force finds it probable that Pandemrix-vaccination contributed to the observed increase in incidence of narcolepsy among those 4-19 years of age.”

In addition to Finland, an increase in narcolepsy cases was observed in Sweden and Iceland. These preliminary results will be confirmed in Finland in coming months. The Finnish Pharmaceutical Insurance Pool already has said compensation would not be paid on the basis of the preliminary report, the Helsinki Times notes. The body, which is made up of three insurance companies, said 15 claims involving Pandemrix and narcolepsy had been filed.

The World Health Organization was quick to react to the news. “WHO agrees that further investigation is required concerning narcolepsy and Pandemrix vaccine,” the World Health Organization said in a statement.

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