The Families in Gardisil Cases
By Anne Xaillé, Le Journal Des Femmes (google translation)
In France, near the end of 2013, 49 young girls who fell victim to serious adverse events occurring as a result of vaccination by Gardasil, filed a criminal complaint. Fifteen months later, the preliminary investigation is still ongoing and no magistrate is appointed. And families wait.
In November 2013, the first complaint against Gardasil reignited the debate on vaccination against cervical cancer. In the months that followed, other complaints were added to the file before the case was forwarded in December 2013 Public Health branch of the Tribunal de Grande Instance de Paris.
But today, more than a year after the first complaints, no investigating judge was appointed to the matter. The preliminary investigation conducted by the prosecutor seems to drag. Difficult period for families who complain.
“I have no news and I do not know if the investigation progresses,” says Laurene, one of the girls defended by Me Camille Kouchner. “C is long, very long! I expect that an investigating judge is appointed. But I have the feeling of not being seen. Is that the complaint will succeed? I do not know, I’m not aware of anything, that’s the more complicated is that expectation …”
Today, 25 years old, the young woman suffers from Verneuil’s disease, a disorder of the skin very disabling because of abscesses that appear the level of body folds (groin, armpits, pubic …). A disease she developed in 2008, only three weeks after injection of the vaccine. She was a teenager lambda without health care. She now lives at the rate of medical care to treat her buttons and abscesses. “More questions to put me in a bathing suit and go to the beach!” So today, she would understand. “No large-scale study is conducted on the long-term side effects of Gardasil and particularly Verneuil’s disease. There is also much uncertainty about the composition of the vaccine … A force, I even wonder about the independence of the judiciary …”
A view shared by the mother of another girl, Julie, whose history is strangely similar to that of Laurène: vaccinated in 2008, the girl begins to suffer from an abscess in the armpit, just 15 days after her vaccination with Gardasil. Two months after, the diagnosis concludes Verneuil’s disease.
Today, she does not hide her exasperation. “We are tired. We know that the file is not in the trash. But we expect a response from justice and it does not come. We would like our girls to be treated as human beings and as if someone is interested in them. It’s long and especially as judicial time is not the same as ours. It seems that our little girls are forgotten, neglected.”
She also referred to the difficulties facing health professionals, often unsympathetic, “You know, I’m not at all against vaccination, but I’m tired of being taken for a hysterical … We just need recognition, no longer be stigmatized …”
Faced with this impatience, the Paris prosecutor’s office has little to say: “The investigation is still ongoing, rather nearing completion. This takes time because you have to analyze all the medical data. It is a painstaking work. …Still, for a public health issue of this nature, the fear that the case will be stifled, is understandable. Fifteen months unanswered, it is long.”
Gardasil, a controversial vaccine. Since its introduction to the market in 2006, Gardasil faced harsh criticism. There are indeed a number of gray areas around the vaccine that protects against HPV, sexually transmitted virus (HPV 16 and 18) and potentially carcinogenic.
First, the evidence of its effectiveness would not be sufficient evidence in light of the lack of decline. In any case, one of the arguments pointed to by a group of doctors who signed a petition in March 2013 calling for a “parliamentary mission on whether to vaccination” against cancer. In total, more than 700 doctors, known for their vis-à-vis independent of the pharmaceutical industry and undermine vaccination against cervical cancer, which causes each year in France about 1000 deaths.
Another point of discussion, the Gardasil vaccine is expensive (123 euros injection) and reimbursed at 65%, so a source of heavy expense for health insurance.
In October 2012, the Court of Auditors in a report declared HPV vaccines “inappropriate” before concluding that “priority should be given to the organization of Pap smear screening.”
This test can detect precancerous and cancerous lesions of the cervix to treat as early as possible to prevent them from developing into cancer. Thanks to smear, mortality from cervical cancer has been halved in the space of 20 years. Organized and systematic screening could even achieve “in a few years screening coverage of 80% of women and so reduce more than 20% the number of deaths,” says the National Cancer Institute (Inca).
Yet despite the effectiveness of the smear, the recommendations of the Court of Auditors and the repeated warnings from scientists, health authorities do not intend to abandon the vaccine strategy.
On the contrary, in a context where young French girls seem to shun vaccination (less than 30% are vaccinated), the goal is to “double coverage within five years”, says François Hollande at the launch of 3 E Cancer Plan. For its part, the WHO now recommends vaccinating girls between 9 and 13 years, before they are “sexually active”.
This position is similar to that of the High Council of Public Health, which estimated last September that the vaccine should be offered to girls, in school.