Fri, Jan 15, 2010 - Page 2 News List

Adimmune files defamation suit

‘UNFOUNDED CONJECTURES’The company objected to posts on a Web site that said the company’s vaccinations contained formaldehyde and high mercury levels

By Shelley Huang and Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  STAFF REPORTERS

Adimmune Corp representatives yesterday filed a defamation lawsuit against a critic who called its vaccines “unsafe.”

Adimmune yesterday purchased large advertisements in local newspapers to announce its decision to file a civil lawsuit against Chen Chun-hsu (陳俊旭), who the company accused of spreading rumors about Adimmune’s vaccines on his personal Web site.

Adimmune said that Chen’s posts have damaged the company’s reputation. The posts claimed Adimmune’s vaccines contained formaldehyde and as much as 50 times more organic mercury than ­Novartis-produced vaccines.

“The unfounded conjectures have seriously damaged the company’s reputation,” said Kao Sheng-kai (高聖凱), vice president of the company’s sales department. “This has also caused many people to fear being vaccinated and resulted in adverse effects on the nation’s health. We believe we must stand up and make our point clear today.”

The company filed a suit with the Taipei District Court and demanded compensation of NT$1 million (US$31,500) from the doctor for slander.

Kao said the company’s entire vaccine manufacturing process follows international standards and ensures safety, adding that the company would also consider filing similar slander suits if other people make unfounded accusations against the company and its products.

The corporation’s arguments were supported by the Department of Health.

An official from the department’s Food and Drug Administration said organic mercury has been used widely in vaccines as a preservative since 1930. It is not natural mercury and would neither accumulate in human bodies nor do any harm, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The official said that mercury was also used in vaccines for Japanese encephalitis, the combined vaccine for diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis, and other flu vaccines, citing several US medical groups’ reports as saying that there is no evidence it is harmful to people.

Chen could not be reached for comment.

Adimmune took legal action as local skeptics raised questions about the safety of its vaccine amid an increasing number of people in Taiwan falling ill or dying after being vaccinated.

Critics, including politicians and television pundits, warned the public not to take Adimmune’s vaccine, dealing a blow to the health authorities’ efforts to have at least half of Taiwan’s population vaccinated against the new flu.

Meanwhile, Executive Yuan Spokesman Su Jun-pin (蘇俊賓) said yesterday the government would provide new A(H1N1) influenza virus injections at international airports in the run-up to the Lunar New Year because many Taiwanese businesspeople based in China are expected to return.

Su said Premier Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) also suggested the Department of Health set up injection facilities near stations, fruit and vegetable markets, night markets and other popular venues to make it more convenient for people to use the service.

Su made the remarks at a press conference following the weekly Cabinet meeting.

Department of Health Minister Yaung Chih-liang (楊志良) said in a briefing at the meeting that 24 percent of the country’s population had been vaccinated, the fourth-highest vaccination rate in the world, following 43 percent in Sweden, 40 percent in Canada and 33 percent in the Netherlands.

The department’s report showed the immunization rate in China was 3 percent.

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