Issues - Chemical Abuse - five-in-one jab
The multi-million-pound contract to supply the vaccine was
given to the UK subsidiary of the only company that produces
it: Aventis Pasteur MSD, part of the drug giant Merck Sharp
& Dohme (MSD).
Medical research at Langman’s department at Birmingham
University is funded by MSD. Although he declared this in
his register of interests, he was allowed to chair the JVCI’s
discussions on the vaccine because he was not personally paid
by the drugs company.
The five-in-one jab being introduced from later this year
will protect babies from diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough,
polio and hib meningitis. Until now, polio and hib have been
Parents have already expressed concern about whether a multiple
vaccine is safe after the scare over the three-in-one MMR
injection. Critics say that Langman’s links to the vaccine
manufacturer will do little to improve public confidence.
Richard Nicholson, editor of the Bulletin of Medical Ethics,
said: “The pharmaceutical industry has got itself into
a position of funding so many experts that it would be impossible
to put a top-class committee together without members who
were receiving such funding.”
Langman this weekend declined to reveal how much money his
department receives from MSD and refused to comment further.
The Department of Health confirmed that Langman chaired the
JCVI’s discussions on the vaccine but denied there was
any wrong in this.
A health department spokeswoman said that only committee members
with “direct personal interests”, such as shareholdings
in vaccine manufacturers, were required to withdraw from discussions
about whether or not to recommend their products. She confirmed
that Langman’s department received funding from the
company for research on colorectal cancer and chronic digestive
disease. She also said he received funding from two other
drug companies, but was unable to say how much the grants
“Professor Langman has not received any personal benefit
from Aventis Pasteur MSD since becoming chairman of the JCVI,”
she said. “He has declared all his interests in strict
accordance with the code of practice.”
Twelve of the 19 members of the JCVI have declared commercial
links with vaccine manufacturers. These range from direct
shareholdings to consultancies and financial support of clinical
Last week Richard Stubbins, managing director of Aventis Pasteur
MSD in Britain, said that although it is reasonable for pharmaceutical
companies to fund academic research, he believed government
advisers on drugs and vaccines should not be allowed personal
shareholdings in the companies about which they advise.