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Parliamentary questions
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29 September 2016
Question for written answer E-007280-16
to the Commission
Rule 130
DAME Glenis Willmott (S&D)

 Subject:  Research into narcolepsy
 Answer in writing 

Narcolepsy affects one in 3 000 people in Europe. Patients may experience disturbed night-time sleep, excessive daytime sleepiness and sudden muscle weakness (catplexy). The condition can have a severe impact on people’s personal and professional lives, and can lead to other conditions, such as depression.

In 2009, around 1,500 people in Europe developed narcolepsy after receiving the swine flu vaccine, Pandemrix. Research suggests that this may be caused by an immune response to a protein in the vaccine, which is similar to a protein found in the brain. Pandemrix was initially authorised under ‘exceptional circumstances’ due to the urgent need to address the threat of a swine flu pandemic; marketing authorisation was withdrawn in 2015.

Although some patients who developed narcolepsy after receiving Pandemrix have received compensation under national schemes, other patients have not been compensated. While the vast majority of vaccines are safe, it is important to ensure that support is available on the rare occasions when a patient is harmed by a vaccine.

1. What funding is the Commission providing for research into narcolepsy?

2. What steps is the Commission taking to learn from the Pandemrix case?

3. Would the Commission consider EU common standards on vaccine injury compensation?

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