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When science is not enough - a risk/benefit profile of thiomersal-containing vaccines.

Abstract

Without a preservative, such as thiomersal (known as thimerosal in the US), multi-dose liquid presentations of vaccine are vulnerable to bacteriological contamination that can result in death or serious illness of the recipient. Concerns about levels of mercury exposure from thiomersal-containing vaccines were first raised in the US during 1999 in the context of Hepatitis B vaccine for newborns. Since then, a large body of evidence from animal and epidemiological studies has accumulated on the safety of thiomersal. Ironically, these data have become largely irrelevant in wealthy countries, where mono-dose, thiomersal-free vaccines have been introduced as a precautionary measure in almost all childhood vaccines, in part related to residual public scepticism. In poor countries, multi-dose vials remain important for vaccine delivery. There is a real danger that this controversy may result in the loss to the world of thiomersal as a preservative, simply from popular pressure. In reality, it would be impossible to cease overnight using thiomersal and maintain the supply of vital vaccines. This paper reviews and summarises the data available from published studies on mercury toxicity, and thiomersal in vaccines in particular, that overwhelmingly indicate continued use of thiomersal is safe in those countries where it is most needed.

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  • Authors+Show Affiliations

    ,

    Centre for International Health, The Macfarlane Burnet Institute for Medical Research and Public Health Ltd, GPO Box 2284, Commercial Road, Melbourne, VIC 3004, Australia. john@clem.com.au

    Source

    Expert opinion on drug safety 5:1 2006 Jan pg 17-29

    MeSH

    Adverse Drug Reaction Reporting Systems
    Animals
    Autistic Disorder
    Epidemiologic Studies
    Ethylmercury Compounds
    Haplorhini
    Humans
    Infant
    Mercury
    Methylmercury Compounds
    Nervous System
    Preservatives, Pharmaceutical
    Risk Factors
    Thimerosal
    Vaccines

    Pub Type(s)

    Journal Article
    Review

    Language

    eng

    PubMed ID

    16370953

    Citation

    Clements, C John, and Peter B. McIntyre. "When Science Is Not Enough - a Risk/benefit Profile of Thiomersal-containing Vaccines." Expert Opinion On Drug Safety, vol. 5, no. 1, 2006, pp. 17-29.
    Clements CJ, McIntyre PB. When science is not enough - a risk/benefit profile of thiomersal-containing vaccines. Expert Opin Drug Saf. 2006;5(1):17-29.
    Clements, C. J., & McIntyre, P. B. (2006). When science is not enough - a risk/benefit profile of thiomersal-containing vaccines. Expert Opinion On Drug Safety, 5(1), pp. 17-29.
    Clements CJ, McIntyre PB. When Science Is Not Enough - a Risk/benefit Profile of Thiomersal-containing Vaccines. Expert Opin Drug Saf. 2006;5(1):17-29. PubMed PMID: 16370953.
    * Article titles in AMA citation format should be in sentence-case
    TY - JOUR T1 - When science is not enough - a risk/benefit profile of thiomersal-containing vaccines. AU - Clements,C John, AU - McIntyre,Peter B, PY - 2005/12/24/pubmed PY - 2006/3/15/medline PY - 2005/12/24/entrez SP - 17 EP - 29 JF - Expert opinion on drug safety JO - Expert Opin Drug Saf VL - 5 IS - 1 N2 - Without a preservative, such as thiomersal (known as thimerosal in the US), multi-dose liquid presentations of vaccine are vulnerable to bacteriological contamination that can result in death or serious illness of the recipient. Concerns about levels of mercury exposure from thiomersal-containing vaccines were first raised in the US during 1999 in the context of Hepatitis B vaccine for newborns. Since then, a large body of evidence from animal and epidemiological studies has accumulated on the safety of thiomersal. Ironically, these data have become largely irrelevant in wealthy countries, where mono-dose, thiomersal-free vaccines have been introduced as a precautionary measure in almost all childhood vaccines, in part related to residual public scepticism. In poor countries, multi-dose vials remain important for vaccine delivery. There is a real danger that this controversy may result in the loss to the world of thiomersal as a preservative, simply from popular pressure. In reality, it would be impossible to cease overnight using thiomersal and maintain the supply of vital vaccines. This paper reviews and summarises the data available from published studies on mercury toxicity, and thiomersal in vaccines in particular, that overwhelmingly indicate continued use of thiomersal is safe in those countries where it is most needed. SN - 1744-764X UR - https://www.unboundmedicine.com/medline/citation/16370953/When_science_is_not_enough___a_risk/benefit_profile_of_thiomersal_containing_vaccines_ L2 - http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1517/14740338.5.1.17 DB - PRIME DP - Unbound Medicine ER -