UK Government Forces MMR-Autism Jab On Parents

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8 July 2008



   UK Government Forces MMR-Autism Jab On Parents

   Daily Mail
   Parents must choose MMR or no protection after 'suspicious'
   shortage of single vaccine
   08th July 2008




   Lisa Winter, 32, with her son
   Charlie, will have to wait to get him
   immunised for Mumps due to a
   nationwide shortage

   Parents who have opted against the MMR for their toddlers face a
   nightmare choice as supplies of the single jab for mumps look set to run
   dry in weeks.

   Tens of thousands of toddlers could go unprotected against the disease
   as it emerged that the world's only supplier has halted production of the
   single vaccine.

   British clinics say their existing stocks are running low and have been
   told they will not receive new supplies of the single vaccine Mumpsvax
   for up to 12 months.

   Doctors have voiced concern that the Government may have pressured
   the sole producer of the single vaccine to reduce stock as a way of
   encouraging uptake of the MMR jab.

   Many parents opted to pay up to £400 for single measles, mumps and
   rubella jabs after the triple MMR vaccine - provided free on the NHS -
   was controversially linked to autism.

   It emerged today that the world's only Mumpsvax manufacturer,
   American pharmaceutical giant Merck, has mysteriously halted
   production until at least 2009.

   The firm - which also supplies the UK with the MMR vaccine - has stopped
   making the drug twice before, but never for more than three months at a
   time.
For many parents it now means an agonising choice of whether to risk
the MMR jab - or not to inoculate their children at all.

There is widespread suspicion among private clinics that the shortage is
due to a Government policy to force parents to have the MMR.

They suspect Merck could be under pressure from Whitehall to restrict
Mumpsvax supply because it also has separate multi-million pound deal
to supply the NHS with MMR.

Dr John Oakley, who runs a private GP clinic in Sutton Coldfield, West
Midlands, said: 'There is pressure on Merck not to supply Mumpsvax to
European markets.

'This pressure is from the government and also from the EU, which are
threatening not to buy Merck's MMR triple vaccine - it's not the only
supplier of it - if the firm continues supplying Mumpsvax.'

Dr Oakley, whose private GP practice supplies the Mumpsvax vaccine,
said halting the drug's import was possible because, unlike measles and
rubella, mumps is not fatal.

'By not allowing Mumpsvax into Britain, the politicians appear to think
they can boost uptake of the MMR, without really affecting the general
health of the nation,' he said.

'Mumps vaccine is unique because its made in America and only by one
company. Also, mumps is not lethal, like Measles and Rubella, which can
cause deaths.

'Certainly the decision to stop exporting it was not made because it's too
expensive to make - Mumpsvax is an ingredient in the triple MMR
vaccine, which the company already sends to the UK.'

The combined jab for measles, mumps and rubella - given to babies for
free from the age of 13 months - was approved in Britain in 1988,
despite concerns about its side effects.

Single vaccines for the diseases remained available free of charge on the
NHS until 1997, when the Government pulled the plug on their licence.

Now single inoculations for measles, mumps and rubella are only
available through a handful of registered providers.

While there is still no conclusive evidence, independent studies appear to
show that the triple jab could be linked with cases of autism and bowel
disease.

Last year 540,000 babies had the MMR - around 83 per cent of the total -
with an estimated 20,000 having single jabs.

While mumps - a viral infection spread by a cough or sneeze - is
relatively harmless in childhood, some babies can contract mumps
meningitis and it can cause sterility and infertility in adults.
The only effective vaccine is made exclusively by Merck, which is also the
world's largest supplier of the MMR triple jab.

It sells the drug to a network of approved suppliers, who in turn sell it to
clinics across the UK, which charge parents up to £130 for each jab.

It is also the Government's sole supplier of MMR, a contract worth
millions of pounds.

Martha Cox, director of Wellcare, a nationwide network of private health
clinics, was told she would not receive new supplies of the Mumpsvax
vaccine until next September.

She believes the government is forcing the MMR jab on parents in a bid
to increase its uptake.

'There is feeling among registered clinics, and of course parents, that the
Government is trying to force people to have the MMR,' she said.

'I find it quite amazing that production can just be stopped like this and
we haven't been told why.

"Everyone is running low on supplies. We will be getting one more load
next week and then that's it.

"This is a political issue as well as an emotive one. The government has
not licensed the single vaccine in this country to offer people a choice, as
it should have done years ago." Dr Julia Piper, a private GP based in
Leicestershire, slammed "interference" in the supply of vaccinations.

Dr Piper, who has offered single jabs at her clinic for some years, said: "I
think its really appalling that a multi-million pound company has a
monopoly on this vaccine, and has no contractual obligations to ensure
the supply.

'I've only found out production has been halted in the last few days and
it's very disruptive.

"The Department of Health does not encourage regular supply of
Mumpsvax as it is not licensed here.

"We have a government that is interventionist in healthcare, and if this
shortage is due to some sort of interference that is very wrong."
Suppliers of Mumpsvax confirmed the shortage was creating havoc for
parents.

Pharmacist Barry Mickle, managing director of the London-based medical
supplier Jolinda, said his company had run out of Mumpsvax a month
ago.

He said: "My understanding is the Merck is not manufacturing Mumpsvax
at the moment until 2009, so it could be a year before UK clinics will
have any." Alister Monro (doub-corr), the managing director of the
Breakspear allergy hospital in Hertfordshire, said he has been inundated
with requests from worried parents about single jabs.
The hospital, which immunises around 250 children per month with single
jabs, said the politicians were afraid to licence single vaccines as this
would suggest the MMR is dangerous.

Mr Monro said: "The Government doesn't want to licence single vaccines
because this could imply there is something wrong with the MMR,
because that would cause an outcry, when in fact the risk is very small.

"We've had a lot of calls from parents who have tried elsewhere to have
the single jabs and been turned away. I would say there's been a 10 per
cent rise in appointments." Dr Richard Halvorsen, who runs the Babyjabs
clinic in Harley Street, London, and the author of 'The Truth about
Vaccines', said he would not recommend the MMR to parents.

Dr Halvorsen added: "Luckily I still have stocks of Mumpsvax, but when
shortages have happened before, I have told parents that measles is the
most important vaccine, and just to wait until Mumpsvax is available
again.

"I would not recommend parents give their children the MMR instead.

"I find it very puzzling that Merck must be producing Mumpsvax as a
component of the MMR, but that it can't produce any more of it for the
single vaccinations." Yesterday, Merck refused to comment about the
shortage of Mumpsvax in the UK and defended the safety of MMR.

A spokesman said: ""MMR contains the same mumps antigen contained
in Mumpsvax and also provides the measles and rubella components.

"MMR has been administered to millions of infants worldwide - over 500
million doses distributed to date - and has a well established safety and
efficacy profile." The Department of Health said there was "no truth"
behind suggestions that it was restricting the supply of mumps jabs.

A spokesman said: "Lets be very clear, there is simply no truth in the
suggestion that the Government has put pressure on Merck to suspend
production of Mumpvax."

*****************
Information Provided:
* HPA Unable To Link UK Measles Outbreak To MMR Shortfall
By John Stone, Parent

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