The Pentacoq vaccine, withdrawn from the market on 22nd December 2005 and replaced by another, was used for five infectious diseases: whooping cough, haemophilus influenza type b (aka Hib), diphtheria, tetanus and polio.
In 1995, 5-month-old baby Ines was prescribed and given this vaccine in compliance with the legally-required vaccination schedule in an attempt to prevent whooping cough, one of the diseases covered by the five-part Pentacoq vaccine. Two other components of the vaccine are also legally required. One week later, Ines was rushed to hospital for serious neurological complications which were not fatal but left her 95% disabled due to acute rhombomyelitis, “attributable to administration of the Pentacoq vaccine,” the State Council finally proclaimed after 17 years of deliberation.
The Government, and more specifically the Ministry of Health, is therefore now sentenced to payment more than 3 million euros to this severely disabled young woman, now in her teens (and to the MSA (French Farmers Mutual Insurance) which paid her hospital fees), since vaccination was legally required at the time. Pre-2002, the French government assumed any risk linked to vaccines. Since 2004, it is ONIAM (French Medical Malpractice Compensation authority) which now pays for vaccine-related benefits. Sanofi-Pasteur, manufacturer of the Pentacoq vaccine, will however escape scot-free.
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