Dutch State reaches settlement with narcolepsy sufferers after swine flu vaccination
A "small group" of people who fell ill after being vaccinated against the swine flu during the 2009 pandemic will receive financial compensation from the State, said Maarten van Ooijen, the state secretary for public health matters. After receiving a vaccination, the people involved developed narcolepsy, a rare sleep disorder that can affect a person's ability do regulate when they sleep or wake, and can result in someone frequently falling asleep unexpectedly.
This issue mainly concerns young children who experienced serious neurological complaints and developed disabilities as a result. The case involves vaccination with products distributed as Pandemrix, from GlaxoSmithKlein, and Focetria, from Seqirus Vaccines Limited.
It has not yet been determined that vaccination led to the development of narcolepsy in the patients. Experts who advised the health ministry said a causal relationship is "unlikely, but not completely excluded." The State is not admitting the liability as a result.
The Cabinet has already reached a settlement with the group, "because of the irreversibility of the exceptionally serious neurological complaints in these young children."
Mark Rutte's third Cabinet allocated 5 million euros for a settlement also for a group who became seriously ill. The Volkskrant made the revelation in September 2018 after an analysis of the Ministry of Health's budget for the upcoming year. The settlement was forseven to eleven people who received the Pandemrix as a baby or toddler in 2009 and subsequently developed narcolepsy.
Two years earlier, the parents of 14 children who developed narcolepsy hired a personal injury lawyer to try and hold the State liable for damages. The group would be roughly between the ages of 15 and 20 years old now.
An attorney involved, John Beer, said at the time that an international study showed that there was very likely a connection between Pandemrix specifically and the development of narcolepsy. "First of all, we demand recognition from the government and secondly a financial solution," he said in 2016. He said that parents of children in similar situations in Sweden, Finland and Norway had already been compensated at that point.
European researchers, including Dutch scientists already started a study into Pandemrix and its link to side effects in 2011. That year, Research showed that there was a possible link between narcolepsy and Pandemrix, after the disease was found in about 60 children from Finland and Sweden. Scientists at the time found that narcolepsy occurs in 4 out of 100,000 children who received Pandemrix, as opposed to about 1 in 100,000 in children who did not receive the drug.
Reporting by ANP