An interesting ruling recently by a European Union (EU) court on vaccinations causing illness may be a sign that questions of safety are beginning to take root – at least in Europe. Last week, an EU court ruled that vaccines may be considered the cause of an illness if the development of the disease is timely to the person receiving a vaccine, and the person was previously healthy and a significant number of disease cases are also reported from others receiving the same vaccine.

Sanofi’s Hepatitis B Vaccine to Blame

The ruling came from a case in which a French citizen was vaccinated for Hepatitis B in 1998 and developed multiple sclerosis shortly after. In 2006, he filed suit against the pharmaceutical company, Sanofi Pasteur, which produced the vaccine; he blamed the vaccine for his neurological decline – Multiple Sclerosis is a neurological condition where nerve tissue in the spinal cord and brain are targeted and destroyed by the immune system; pain, musculoskeletal dysfunction as well as visual disturbances are common symptoms.

“Specific and Consistent Evidence” Offers More Substance Than Arbitrary Lack of Causal Link Does

The case was appealed after an initial ruling by the French Court of Appeals deemed that there was no”specific and consistent” scientific support of a causal link between the hepatitis B vaccine and multiple sclerosis. The case was then brought before the European Court of Justice. The Court of Justice deemed that “specific and consistent evidence” could relate to the timeliness, prior healthy status, lack of family history and multiple cases linked to the same vaccine, and that would be enough to provide a causal link. The ruling is actually not in favor of the Frenchman who filed the suit, but rather will serve as guidance for future EU courts looking at similar scenarios.

This seems to be a move away from utilizing expert opinion in favor of the courts being authorized to make judgments about causality themselves, which has stirred up quite the controversy among experts.

Image Copyright: <a href=’https://www.123rf.com/profile_niroworld’>niroworld / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

Node Smith, associate editor for NDNR, is a fifth year naturopathic medical student at NUNM, where he has been instrumental in maintaining a firm connection to the philosophy and heritage of naturopathic medicine amongst the next generation of docs. He helped found the first multi-generational experiential retreat, which brings elders, alumni, and students together for a weekend camp out where naturopathic medicine and medical philosophy are experienced in nature. Three years ago he helped found the non-profit, Association for Naturopathic ReVitalization (ANR), for which he serves as the board chairman. ANR has a mission to inspire health practitioners to embody the naturopathic principles through experiential education. Node also has a firm belief that the next era of naturopathic medicine will see a resurgence of in-patient facilities which use fasting, earthing, hydrotherapy and homeopathy to bring people back from chronic diseases of modern living; he is involved in numerous conversations and projects to bring about this vision. 

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