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Health officials exonerated over swine flu vaccine acquisition

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  • Health officials exonerated over swine flu vaccine acquisition

    The National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) has been found to have acted correctly when it acquired vaccine against the H1N1, or swine flu virus in the spring of 2009. The vaccination campaign was later found to correlate with a sharp increase in cases of narcolepsy.
    Chancellor of Justice Jaakko Jonkka ruled in favour of THL after investigating 50 complaints on the matter. Some of the complaints included suspicions that THL was biased in favour of the company that manufactured the drug.

    Jonkka found nothing improper in THL?s contacts with pharmaceutical manufacturers.
    Jonkka feels that research funding provided to THL by pharmaceutical companies can weaken confidence in the institute?s official activities, which is why he is asking the Ministry of Social Affairs and health to say by the end of March if something should be done in the matter.

    There were also complaints that the vaccines were acquired without any competitive bidding.
    Jonkka found that the Ministry of social Affairs and Health had to decide on the acquisition in a situation in which nobody had sure knowledge about how dangerous the virus was, or how the disease would spread.
    Therefore, he found that the direct acquisition of the vaccine was justified, even though it was an exceptional way to go.

    The Chancellor of Justice also saw no foundation in claims that officials of the ministry or of THL would have had a conflict of interest.
    However, he did say that participation in events sponsored by outsiders can endanger the impartiality of civil servants.
    In his ruling Jonkka did not take a stand on demands for compensation from recipients of the vaccine who came down with narcolepsy, noting that the matter is not within his jurisdiction.