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Today (June 11) a young narcolepsy patient was awarded over $150,000 for damages done by a vaccine. This decision came after at first denying that the young man met the 60 percent or more disability rating necessary to qualify for payouts under the United Kingdom’s (UK) Vaccine Damage Payment Scheme, despite the fact that children who also had “other risk factors” were 14 times more likely than their non-vaccinated counterparts to contract narcolepsy if they had received GlaxoSmithKline injection Pandremix as a means of preventing the spread of the swine flu epidemic which had occurred between 2009 and 2010.
The plaintiff, a now 12-year-old boy referred to in court documents as John, was diagnosed with the disorder five months after he received the injection. He was represented by solicitor Peter Todd, who also represents 75 other British citizens who are seeking civil reparations from GlaxoSmithKline as a result of also acquiring narcolepsy following Pandremix injections. Todd challenged the government’s finding at a First-tier tribunal, the initial step for such matters in the UK legal system. He won and the six-figure settlement came along with the victory. However, the government appealed to the Upper Tribunal where they lost again today. At this point in time, it remains to be seen whether the government would again appeal within the 21 day appeals window. Should that happen, the case will go to the Court of Appeal.
According to Paul Gringras, a Professor in Paediatric Nerodisability and Sleep Medicine from Evelina London Children’s Hospital, John had “a more severe case of narcolepsy and cataplexy.” He also said that the young man was now diagnosed with “lifetime neurological disease.” John’s narcolepsy, Gringras concluded, will “very likely” impact his schooling and ability to maintain employment, among other things for the rest of his life. Perhaps the long list of never-ending life impacts is part of the reason why the presiding judge reaffirmed the award of over $150,000 for the damage done by the vaccine to the young narcolepsy patient.
Narcolepsy is a disorder where one can fall asleep unwillingly at any point in the day while doing any activity. Onset is most common between 15 years and 25 years of age. The exact cause is unknown although there has been a good case made for a genetic link to exist in many people with the disorder. Often, narcolepsy goes undiagnosed and therefore untreated.
In the case of John, he also experiences cataplexy. This is a sudden loss of muscle tone which is often accompanied by feelings of weakness. The effects can range from slurred speech to collapsing, depending on which muscles are affected by a particular episode.
Across the pond in Seattle, the first clinical trial occurred to see whether the drug sodium oxybate, which is already approved for positively treating adults with both conditions, would have the same effect in children and adolescents. The double-blind study will have a placebo group and a prescription received group. In this kind of study, all information which may influence the behavior of either a tester or a patient is withheld until after the study is completed to avoid affecting the results. All study participants must be between the ages of six and 17 when they begin taking the sodium oxybate which will hopefully alleviate some of the symptoms of those receiving the actual drug. If this is found to be the case, it will confirm doctors’ anecdotal observations which have consistently been that when sodium oxybate is given to an underage patient to help with another issue it also helps relieve narcolepsy and cataplexy symptoms if that person is also under treatment for those concerns.
The study will last 52 weeks at most, and the results should be available sometime in 2017. The study results will be tracked by measuring the amount of reduction in cataplexy symptoms on a weekly basis. Patients will be asked to keep a diary so that they remember all of their attacks, as well as the symptoms beforehand and after effects.
If all goes well, perhaps sodium oxybate will prove effective and become available in the UK. If so, John (the narcolepsy patient who was awarded over $150,000 in damages done by an innocent vaccination) will spend some of his winnings on either purchasing it, as people do over there if the National Health Service does not pay for new to market drugs right away, or funding research to find even more solutions.
By Martina Robinson
The Independent: Boy, 12, wins £120,000 in damages after swine-flu jab left him ‘severely disabled’ by narcolepsy
Psychiatry Advisor: First Study to Examine Narcolepsy Drug in Children, Adolescents
Featured image courtesy of Nicole May’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
In-line image courtesy of Sarah’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License