Children's minister asks GSK to consider 'reparations' for Mother and Baby vaccine trial victims

Children's minister asks GSK to consider 'reparations' for Mother and Baby vaccine trial victims

Minister O’Gorman wrote to Emma Walmsley, GSK’s chief executive in Britain, last week seeking “appropriate action” to meet the company’s moral and ethical responsibility. Picture: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie

The Minister for Children has asked GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) to consider “reparations” for former residents of Mother and Baby Homes where vaccine trials were carried out by the pharmaceutical giant.

As part of the Commission of Investigation into the homes, it emerged that GlaxoSmithKline had engaged in vaccine trials in Mother and Baby homes between 1934 and 1973.

In total, seven vaccine trials and two trials on infant milk formula were carried out on more than 600 babies and children in the homes.

The trials were carried out on behalf of Glaxo Laboratories and the Wellcome Foundation which later became part of the GSK group.

The trials were allegedly carried out on children in Bessborough in Blackrock, Cork, in St Patrick’s on the Navan Road in Dublin, Sean Ross Abbey in Tipperary, and Castlepollard and Dunboyne in Westmeath and Meath, respectively.

It is understood Minister Roderic O’Gorman wrote to Emma Walmsley, GSK’s chief executive in Britain, last week seeking “appropriate action” to meet the company’s moral and ethical responsibility.

In a letter obtained by The Sunday Times, Minister Roderic O’Gorman wrote that “no attempt” appears to have been made to “seek the consent of parents or guardians” in regard to the trials.

“I believe that all relevant parties, including GSK, have a moral and ethical obligation to take appropriate action in response to this report,” he wrote, adding that former residents of the mother and baby homes had been in touch with him regarding the payment of reparations in relation to the vaccine trials.

“This obligation goes beyond compliance with legislative and regulatory requirements. In the context of the specific activities of the companies that now form part of GSK, I would ask GSK to reflect on how it can respond to the failures laid bare in the commission’s report.” 

A statement issued by GSK following the Commission’s report in January said it made “for difficult reading”.

The statement did not include an apology.

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