Vatican on Vaccines
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Morally produced shingles vaccine approved in both US and Canada
(Largo, FL) Children of God for Life announced today that the long-awaited, morally produced shingles vaccine has received FDA approval for licensing in the US. Shingrix, made by Glaxo SmithKline (GSK) pharmaceutical company is produced using Chinese hamster cells, unlike Merck’s Zostavax which uses aborted fetal cells.
“Until now, people wanting to have protection from shingles have had to either use Merck’s aborted fetal version or abstain entirely”, stated Debi Vinnedge, Executive Director at Children of God for Life. “We are thrilled that GSK has finally given the US a moral option!”
Shingrix was also approved for use in Canada last week.
Earlier this year, Children of God for Life issued a press release noting that the Shingrix was likely to get the FDA recommendation as a product of choice. In September, the FDA did exactly that, voting unanimously in its endorsement of Shingrix. (See: http://www.fiercepharma.com/vaccines/fda-panel-unanimously-endorses-glaxo-s-shingrix-as-1b-market-duel-nears )
The preference for GSK’s shot could seriously hurt Merck’s Zostavax sales, which totaled $685 million last year. Not only is GSK’s Shingrix morally produced, but it is also a far superior product as evidenced by lengthy clinical trials. The studies demonstrated that Shingrix is 97.2% effective in people over 50 years old. It also maintained 90% efficacy in those 70 years old and above with 95% immunity maintained after four years. On the other hand, Merck’s Zostavax, is only 38% effective in people over 70 and only 40% duration of immunity after four years.
Shingrix combines a protein from the chickenpox virus called glycoprotein E with the immune system-boosting QS-21 Stimulon made by Agenus. This unique component is made from the bark of the Quillaja saponaria (soap bark) evergreen tree native to central Chile.
Children of God for Life is hoping that with the advancement of Shingrix, GSK could also produce a moral version of the chickenpox vaccine. Merck’s Zostavax is simply a stronger version of its’ chickenpox vaccine, so it seems possible that GSK could weaken Shingrix for a chickenpox vaccine.
“This is a problem we have dealt with for years and we cannot thank GSK enough for doing it right”, noted Vinnedge. “There is absolutely no reason to use the remains of aborted babies to produce vaccines.” In June 2005, the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy for Life responded to Children of God for Life’s request for help stating unequivocally that:
“Doctors and fathers of families have a duty to take recourse to alternative vaccines, putting pressure on the political authorities and health systems so that other vaccines without moral problems become available. They should take recourse, if necessary, to the use of conscientious objection with regard to the use of vaccines produced by means of cell lines of aborted human foetal origin. Equally, they should oppose by all means the vaccines which do not yet have morally acceptable alternatives, creating pressure so that alternative vaccines are prepared, which are not connected with the abortion of a human foetus, and requesting rigorous legal control of the pharmaceutical industry producers.”
Likewise, the US Conference of Bishops noted in their April 2015 updated statement that, “The Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities agrees with the National Catholics Bioethics Center, the Catholic Medical Association, and others that manufacturers should be urged to make alternative vaccines more widely available so that Catholics and others will not face this moral dilemma.
“I commend GSK for the development of Shingrix,” said John F Brehany, Director of Institutional Relations at the National Catholic Bioethics Center. “And I commend the thousands of people who by their prayers and petitions have helped to bring about this day. I hope they will redouble their efforts. Safe, effective, and ethical vaccines can and should be provided by the pharmaceutical companies. And everyone who respects human life and dignity should make use of these ethical alternatives.”
Stated Dr Jay Carpenter whose patients will benefit from the new Shingrix vaccine, “As a practicing physician, I am happy that I finally have a safe, effective, and morally acceptable vaccine to offer my patients to protect them from shingles. Hopefully companies will take this lead to produce other morally acceptable and effective vaccines for MMR, Hepatitis A, and other diseases.”
For years the scientists at Sound Choice Pharmaceutical Institute have been fighting for the reality that a superior vaccine product can be made on an ethical pathway. Sound Choice has particularly focused on the potential harms of human fetal cell contaminants in vaccines made from human fetal cell lines.
“We want to celebrate this victory with GSK and the community that has been fighting for alternative, ethical vaccines, because we all believe that the ethical way is always the best way,” stated Dr. Theresa A. Deisher, founder of the nonprofit organization that is researching and advocating the need for ethically produced, safe biologic products, with a focus on the pharmaceutical world.
“As scientists working towards ending human exploitation in biomedical research, we are thrilled about the approval of Shingrix vaccine in the US”, she added. As always, she urges consumers to continue to demand that pharmaceutical companies provide alternatives for unsafe health products.
The public is being asked to thank GSK by writing to:
Patrick Desbiens Senior Vice President
GSK US Vaccines
5 Crescent Drive
Philadelphia, PA 19112