The family of a young woman who took legal action against the State and drugs company GSK in relation to her contracting the sleep disorder narcolepsy after being administered with the receipt of the Pandemrix vaccine has slated as “a national scandal” the millions of Euro in taxpayers money spent defending the case by the State.
Aoife Bennett (27) who was given the vaccine when she was a child during the height of the Swine Flu pandemic fears in 2009, settled her case with the Department of Health and Health Service Executive (HSE) at the High Court. The confidential settlement is without an admission of liability.
The High Court action was last week informed that that key data on the vaccine was not included in Irish medication reports because it was considered to be “useless.” However, that data indicated that Pandemrix had a ten times greater danger for serious side effects than a sister vaccine produced by the same company.
Ms Bennett and her family expressed their wished that that the State decision to settle their action will clear the path for around 100 other pending claims over narcolepsy to be settled with proper compensation being paid to claimants.
The vaccination compensation settlement for the student teacher was awarded against the Department of Health and the HSE. GSK and the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) were not party to the settlement and will not pay anything in relation to costs or compensation.
Aoife’s mother Mary Bennett said “It is a national disgrace that millions of taxpayers money has been wasted in defending my case and other similar cases against children and young people who do not have any right to legal aid.” She went on to say that the public was not made aware that there were safety concerns over the vaccine – and she called for a thorough review of the drug regulatory system in Ireland.
The Bennett family also hit out at the way they were treated over the past decade by the State. Ms Bennett had broken down while giving evidence in the High Court. Her parents Pat and Mary said: “The behaviour of the defendants prior to and during the trial has been exceptionally hostile. Further, the State Claims Agency have taken a very adversarial approach in dealing with Aoife’s case. The aggressive cross examination of Aoife, and us as parents, over four days is something I hope will not be replicated for other families. Today, Aoife has succeeded in recovering compensation and her case has been vindicated. However, no money will ever compensate Aoife for a lifetime of living with the incurable disability of narcolepsy and cataplexy.”