Children in care used in drugs tests

Children in care homes in the Irish Republic
were used for vaccination trials during a 13-year period, the
opening session of a public inquiry was told in Dublin last

The trials took place in the 1960s and 1970s.
The Irish Department of Health has ordered an inquiry into who
authorised the trials, the drug companies involved and the possible
long-term effects on the children.

Three trials involving 300 children in
residential homes in the Republic are to be investigated. The
inquiry will also try to find out if other trials took place.

In some of the trials, children were injected
with a quadruple vaccine for diphtheria, whooping cough, tetanus
and polio combined. Rubella nasal vaccines were also used.

The inquiry will be conducted by the Laffoy
Commission, which is also investigating child abuse in Irish
residential homes in the same period and is headed by Judge Mary

At last week’s opening session, there were
outbursts from victims, who are insisting on separate legal
representation rather than having legal teams appointed by the

“We don’t trust the state to represent us,”
said Christine Buckley, spokesperson for one of the support groups.
Michael O’Brien, who spent eight years in care and heads another
group, was applauded when he declared: “We were used as pin
cushions by the people who organised these trials. We are tired of
being muzzled.”

According to Judge Laffoy, the commission’s
legal team will have access to all the institutions involved in the
trials and experts will be recruited to help with the findings and
to testify to the inquiry.

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