Dublin pharmacy owner charged with malpractice following Facebook post that appeared to show support for anti-vaccination group says investigation into her conduct created far greater publicity for vaccine opponents against HPV, Gardasil, than its use of social media.
Pharmacist Janet Dillon has warned that the publicity surrounding attempts to “vilify and publicly humiliate her” in an investigation by the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland this week could lead to “a new social media campaign against the vaccine. -HPV “. Ms Dillon, who owns a pharmacy on Manor Street in Stoneybatter, has also said she will take legal action against any adverse findings against her.
Claiming that she had been denied natural justice and due process, the pharmacist said she would seek justice outside of PSI “if I have to.” Ms Dillon, who also owns pharmacies in Newbridge, Co Kildare and Carrick-on-Shannon, is charged with malpractice before PSI’s Fitness to Practice Committee (FTP) for sharing a video of a vaccine group anti-HPV, Regret, on her pharmacy Facebook page on March 27, 2018.
She also faces a similar charge for ‘liking’ on her personal Facebook page a comment in reaction to the video that said, ‘I would not give my daughter this vaccine. It’s not sure “.
The video claims that several young girls suffered serious illnesses after taking Gardasil to protect themselves from the HPV virus, a common source of cervical cancer. A decision of the FTP committee will be published at a later date.
Although Ms Dillon was not involved in the three-day investigation, a closing statement read on her behalf by lawyer Maria Dillon said her sharing of the video of Regret three and a half years ago had elicited six reactions. The pharmacist said a news article from the first day of the PSI investigation drew thousands of readers.
Ms Dillon claimed that the PSI registrar had, by seeking to slander and publicly humiliate her, pushed concerns about the vaccine into the media spotlight.
“Anti-HPV [vaccine] The movement has gained more publicity in the past 36 hours in national media than the movement has garnered in recent years, ”she noted.
Ms Dillon, a licensed pharmacist since 1993, said her livelihood was threatened by PSI’s “disproportionately harsh” attitude towards petty infractions compared to other regulatory bodies. The pharmacist said PSI’s portrayal of people claiming to have experienced unwanted side effects from the HPV vaccine as being hysterical and faked – a charge the PSI rejected – would further infuriate these young women and their families.
She said a report commissioned by PSI from a forensic computer specialist was not balanced because it only searched for HPV vaccine publications when the overall positive health information on the Facebook page of his pharmacy had not been assessed. She expressed shock that an expert witness from PSI claimed her sharing of the Regret video was “dark and unethical” for promoting a conspiracy theory.
Ms Dillon also criticized the lack of evidence from expert witnesses to show the HPV vaccine was safe. The pharmacist said it was “mean and petty” of PSI to continue the investigation this week when her lawyer was unavailable and she struggled to find a substitute.
In response, PSI attorney Eoghan O’Sullivan BL regretted Ms. Dillon repeating “outrageous claims” made earlier in the week that she was the scapegoat for the PSI registrar. Mr. O’Sullivan also accused the pharmacist of misquoting and misrepresenting much of the testimony at the hearing.
During the investigation, Mr. O’Sullivan said the ISP had followed the legal process “to the letter” in cases where someone had withdrawn a complaint filed with the regulator.
He said Ms Dillon’s reference to the recent report of an expert panel which recommended the establishment of an emergency compensation scheme for people harmed by vaccines was “false.” – fleeing ”.
In a closing brief, Mr O’Sullivan said there was no dispute over the central facts about Facebook posts, but what was at issue was the opportunity to share and like a such content. Mr O’Sullivan said Ms Dillon did share and apparently validate the misinformation about Gardasil’s side effects.
He stressed that the HPV virus was very widespread but also very preventable and that the vaccination program was designed to save lives. The lawyer said the pharmacist made no attempt to counterbalance the video by highlighting the benefits of the HPV vaccine.
He said Ms O’Sullivan knew reports from the World Health Organization and the European Medicines Agency refuted claims linking Gardasil to chronic fatigue and pain syndromes, but she chose to “ignore science”. Mr O’Sullivan said evidence had shown Ms Dillon shared numerous videos posted by Regret that indicated she had a “disgusting” view of the immunization program.
He said there was no doubt about her personal views on Gardasil and that she gave credit to Regret’s opinion in a professional capacity. He said an aggravating factor in the case was a “disturbing and false” statement made by Ms Dillon on the day the investigation was initiated when she suggested she was subject to a “show trial. “.
Mr O’Sullivan said this was “just not true” and deeply disrespectful to PSI.
Earlier, an expert witness called by PSI told the inquest that Ms Dillon, as a pharmacist, had an obligation to review the content of the Regret video before sharing it on social media.
Brendan Kerr, former registrar of the Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland, said the pharmacist was unlikely to be unaware of the potential content of the video because it came from a group who claimed the vaccine was harmful to children . Mr Kerr said it was inappropriate for a pharmacist to share such content even if it pertained to only one patient, as the impact could be significant.
The witness said Ms Dillon made no effort to strike a balance in promoting the benefits of the HPV vaccination program and viewers were left with a message suggesting the vaccine was faulty or unsafe. “This message of positivity and health care is missing. It’s very important, ”said Mr. Kerr.
He added: “I’m sure Ms. Dillon is an excellent pharmacist who serves her community well, but I think in this particular decision she allowed her personal views on the immunization program to take precedence over her obligations in as a pharmacist. ”
Asked by the FTP committee about the seriousness of the pharmacist’s conduct, Mr Kerr said he viewed this as serious professional misconduct because it promoted a one-sided view that was a serious dereliction of duty by a pharmacist who could put the wrongdoings on. children in danger.