Dublin pharmacy owner, who faces two malpractice allegations following a social media post that appeared to support an anti-vaccination group, claims she was the victim of a motivated ‘show trial’ policy by the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland (PSI).
PSI’s Fitness to Practice Committee (FTP) heard claims Monday that pharmacist Janet Dillon, who owns a pharmacy on Manor Street in Stoneybatter, shared a video of an HPV vaccine group, Regret, on the pharmacy’s Facebook page on March 27, 2018.
The video claims that several young girls suffered serious illnesses after taking the vaccine, Gardasil, to protect against the HPV virus which is a known cause of cancer, especially cervical cancer.
PSI attorney Eoghan O’Sullivan BL said around the same date that Ms Dillon also “liked”, using her personal Facebook account, a comment in reaction to the video which read: “I would not give this vaccine to my daughter, not sure.
Mr O’Sullivan said the allegations amounted to several violations of the pharmacists’ code of conduct, including that they should in no way harm the good reputation of the profession.
PSI says Ms. Dillon’s conduct in “liking” the Facebook comment was “professionally shameful or shameful.”
While Mr O’Sullivan said the ISP was sympathetic to the plight of the young girls in the video who genuinely believed there was a connection between their conditions and taking Gardasil, he said that such an opinion was “totally and totally at odds with the scientist on this question”.
Ms Dillon, a registered pharmacist since 1993 who also owns two other pharmacies in Newbridge, Co Kildare, and Carrick-on-Shannon, Co Leitrim, did not attend the hearing despite claiming she was not unable to find a replacement to operate his pharmacy because as well as being denied access to his lawyer because he was unable to attend the hearing.
In a statement read on her behalf by lawyer Maria Dillon, the pharmacist said she had to hire a lawyer due to “prior victimization by PSI” in what she claimed was a “David vs. Goliath”.
Ms Dillon said it was unreasonable for PSI not to postpone the hearing until January 2022, when her lawyer would be available to attend.
She claimed that her offer to pledge not to comment publicly on the state’s vaccine policy was rejected because the PSI registrar “wanted a political trial with the possibility of publicly humiliating me through the media. mass and signal of virtue on behalf of PSI. unconditional obedience to the vaccine policy of the State ”.
“I take exception to the fact that this show trial is aimed at damaging my reputation and portraying me as an anti-vaxxer, which I clearly am not,” Ms. Dillon said.
She stressed that her pharmacies had fully participated in the deployment of vaccination programs against influenza and Covi-19.
Ms Dillon said she also knew personally one of the families in the Regret video who were not against vaccination but who were campaigning for “informed consent” to enable them to weigh the risks and benefits of decisions. important to their health.
Ms. Dillon recalled that then HSE chief executive Tony O’Brien accused these families of being “emotional terrorists” in 2017.
She also pointed out that a group of experts had recommended last year the establishment of an emergency compensation scheme for people who have suffered damage from vaccines.
The pharmacist claimed that her Facebook post had no negative impact on Gardasil use, as vaccination rates increased over the following year.
In response, Mr O’Sullivan said it was unfortunate that Ms Dillon did not attend the investigation and instead provided what was “an inflammatory and factually incorrect statement”.
Mr O’Sullivan said Ms Dillon’s comments were also “enlightening” as they left “very little doubt” about her motivation when she shared the post on Facebook.
He said PSI had made numerous attempts to fix dates for the investigation which had regularly been called off “at the 11th hour” by Ms Dillon, despite failing to provide “evidence” of her difficulties. to get a replacement.
The attorney said it was also unfortunate that Ms Dillon, with her statement, attempted to use a public forum to further agitate issues related to Gardasil, Regret and the HPV vaccination program.
Consultant pediatrician and infectious disease specialist Professor Karina Butler told the survey that HPV is a common virus that accounts for about 5% of all cancers worldwide.
Professor Butler, who is also chairman of the National Advisory Committee on Immunization, said 90 women die each year in Ireland from cervical cancer linked to the HPV virus.
She told the FTP committee that major reviews had been carried out by the World Health Organization and the European Medicines Agency after reports that the HPV vaccine caused chronic fatigue and chronic pain syndromes.
The survey learned that the initial vaccination rate in Ireland for the HPV vaccine after its introduction in 2010 was 81%, but has fallen to 51% as a result of these reports.
However, Professor Butler said no causal link was found between Gardasil and such health problems and reviews concluded that it was “an extremely safe vaccine.”
She said healthcare professionals, including pharmacists, had a role to play in ensuring public confidence in vaccines, as research had shown them to be highly trusted by patients.
Zoe McCormack, who filed the original complaint against Ms Dillon with PSI, told the inquest she was shocked that a pharmacist shared a video suggesting the HSE was not giving the public all the information it had about the HPV vaccine.
Ms McCormack said it was a disgusting lack of professionalism on the part of a pharmacist who she might have expected to share in evidence that the vaccine was completely safe for girls.
She said she withdrew her complaint because she believed it was up to the ISP to decide whether it wanted to follow up on the matter.
The hearing was adjourned until Tuesday morning.