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An anti-cancer vaccine revives controversy

Gardasil, an anti-cervical cancer vaccine
Gardasil, an anti-cervical cancer vaccine Reuters/Vincent Kessler

The anti-cervical cancer vaccine 'Gardasil' ignited debate over the weekend after French teenager Marie-Oceane Bourguignon filed a lawsuit against French pharmaceutical company Sanofi Pasteur and the country's health regulators.


She claimed that extreme side-effects were caused by injections of Gardasil, a vaccine against the human papilloma virus (HPV), when she was 15 years old.

Gardasil is made by Merck and sold throughout Europe by Sanofi.

Bourguignon is suffering from either an evolutive nervous system disease or multiple sclerosis since February 2011, that she says is caused by the two vaccine injections she had in October and December 2010.

However, Daniel Floret, the chair of the national committee that oversees vaccinations, said Monday that there is no evidence linking Gardasil with serious auto-immune conditions such as multiple sclerosis.

Three other women have announced that they will lodge a complaint against Sanofi Pasteur over the alleged side-effects of Gardasil within the next two weeks.

But proponents of the vaccine say 2.3 million teenagers are targeted preventively each year in France.

About 3,000 women will suffer from a cervical cancer every year.

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