Narcolepsy case: State faces €4m bill after vaccine settlement

Aoife Bennett took case after developing narcolepsy after getting swine flu jab

The State is facing legal and other costs estimated at up to €4 million following the settlement on Tuesday of a case taken by a young woman who developed narcolepsy after being administered with a swine flu vaccine.

Aoife Bennett (26), who was administered with the Pandemrix vaccine in school in December 2009, as part of the State campaign against the swine flu pandemic, changed within weeks from being an energetic, athletic teenager to someone who struggled to get out of bed, her mother Mary told the High Court in October.

Aoife, from Naas, Co Kildare, took a case against the Minister for Health, the HSE, and GlaxoSmithKline Biologicals, as well as the Health Products Regulatory Authority.

However, the case has now been settled, with no admission of liability for an undisclosed sum. It is unclear what will now happen with the other 100 or so people, mostly young, who also believe they developed narcolepsy as a result of the vaccine.


Most other countries have a no-fault compensation schemes for people who suffer injury arising from vaccination, but Ireland does not despite a scheme being recommended by an Oireachtas committee as far back as 2001.

A report from an expert group is expected in the coming weeks and will be taken into account in relation to the development of a scheme, a spokeswoman for the Department of Health told The Irish Times.

Colm Keena

Colm Keena

Colm Keena is an Irish Times journalist. He was previously legal-affairs correspondent and public-affairs correspondent