British pharma giant called on to compensate mother and baby home survivors for vaccine trials 

GlaxoSmithKline cooperated with the Mother and Baby Home Commission and gave documentation which showed they engaged in vaccine trials.
British pharma giant called on to compensate mother and baby home survivors for vaccine trials 

Richard O'Donoghue: “I think they have a moral obligation to make a contribution and a significant one at that." File photo: Brendan Gleeson

A Limerick TD has called on a British multinational pharmaceutical giant to pay €500 million towards the victims of the mother and baby homes.

GlaxoSmithKline cooperated with the investigation of the Mother and Baby Home Commission and gave documentation which showed they engaged in vaccine trials between 1934 and 1973.

These were carried out by Wellcome, which became part of GlaxoSmithKline in 2000.

Independent TD, Richard O'Donoghue, raised the issue at the Dáil on Wednesday.

“I feel strongly that GlaxoSmithKline be asked to contribute financially to the Mother and Baby Homes Redress Scheme,” said Mr O’Donoghue.

“I think they have a moral obligation to make a contribution and a significant one at that. 

Their involvement in vaccine and clinical trials was overall to their financial benefit, and their engagement with the Mother and Baby Homes, and of its residents was at best, dubious, but in real terms, unethical and illegal.

Trials were allegedly carried out on children in Bessborough, St Patrick's Navan Road (Pelletstown), Sean Ross Abbey, Castlepollard, Dunboyne as well as others.

“The findings of their many trials in these institutions, I have no doubt, were to the huge financial benefit of what is now GlaxoSmithKline, a major pharmaceutical operation that had revenues of €40 billion in 2019,” said Mr O’Donoghue. 

"GlaxoSmithKline should contribute, I feel they have a moral obligation to do so and this Government should immediately start such dialogue.

“A figure in the region of €500 million wouldn’t be far off the mark for them. It made €6 billion in profit in 2019, so it’s a small contribution in real terms. In fact over the last 10 years €500 million represents not even a figure approaching a fraction of one per cent. 

"Basically, €500 million is minuscule to GSK and would represent a genuine and meaningful contribution to the redress scheme, which will be well north of €1 billion,” he added.

More in this section