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The European Medicines Agency (EMA) is raising serious concerns about Pandemrix, a swine flu vaccine that has been linked to several cases of narcolepsy in European countries. The cases, which involve young people under the age of 20, have been reported in France, Sweden and Norway.

Drug monitoring companies have noted several such cases involving children and teenagers. These findings have been backed up by epidemiological studies carried out in Finland and Sweden, where researchers have established a link between narcolepsy and Pandemrix, which is manufactured by the GlaxoSmithKline company.

The EMA has not noted the same correlation in adults. According to the agency, "the vaccine probably interacted with genetic or environmental factors that could increase the risk of being affected by narcolepsy. Other factors may also have been responsible."

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) launched a study in nine European countries via Vaesco, a research network. So far, the study confirms the link between the vaccine and the development of narcolepsy. GlaxoSmithKline is also conducting a retrospective study in Canada, where a similar vaccine, Arepanrix, was widely used.

For now the EMA does not plan to withdraw the Pandemrix vaccine from the market.

Read full story in French by Paul Benkimoun

Photo - Elizabeth Albert