By Claire O’Sullivan and Conall O’Fatharta
24 January 2011
PARTICIPANTS in controversial vaccine trials in mother-and-baby homes have been told by the Department of Health that it can’t give them their medical files or any trial documentation as it is legally bound to return the files to the drugs company.
The files are in the hands of the Laffoy Commission on Child Abuse, which was forced to halt its vaccine trials investigation following a 2002 court case.
Last night, Brenda McVeigh of the commission confirmed that they were “undertaking an examination of all documentation that they have and cataloguing it”. She said no files have yet been returned to Glaxo SmithKline.
A letter from the Department of Health to the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Health and Children, seen by the Irish Examiner, states that the department cannot hand over the documentation to the committee or to participants as legally “it is not possible for that material to be used for any other purpose” other than Laffoy Commission investigations.
“In the circumstances, I understand from the commission that they will be returning all documentation to the source that originally provided it”, the letter read.
The vaccine trials will be discussed by the Joint Committee in private tomorrow.
One of its members, Labour’s Kathleen Lynch, last night said the files have to be handed to the people used in the trials, irrespective of recent court rulings.
“I firmly believe the files must be given to victims as a human right. But until they are handed over and until this is finalised, they must be protected and must not be destroyed by any body or any company,” she said.