Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Lyme vaccine? Yes and no....

I should have remembered this in class but as soon as I looked it up I remembered this story.

There IS a vaccine for Lyme disease - it is called Lymerix and conferred immunity to Borrelia in 76% of adults and 100% of children with only mild or moderate adverse effects. It was approved by the FDA in 1998.

However a number of class-action lawsuits were filed against GlaxoSmithKline alleging that the vaccine had caused health problems. Curiously these health problems were similar to those that are now being attributed to long term Lyme disease.

These claims were investigated by the FDA and the CDC, who found no connection between the vaccine and the autoimmune complaints however the damage was done and sales plummeted and the vaccine was withdrawn from the market by GalxoSmithKline in 2002.

The story is addressed in this 2006 News Story in Nature: Lyme disease: Uphill Struggle
The first vaccine against Lyme disease was withdrawn because patients distrusted it. Should market forces be allowed to shape the next one?
and in an accompanying editorial
When a vaccine is safe.
Unfounded public fears place pressures on vaccine developers that go beyond reasonable safety considerations, as the search for an acceptable vaccine against Lyme disease may demonstrate.

We will have more to say about vaccines - and the public attitude to them in future lectures. Meanwhile you can still get a Lyme Disease vaccine - but only for your dog.

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