HC Deb 21 April 1999 vol 329 cc539-40W
Mr. Ian Stewart

To ask the Secretary of State for Health when research projects(a) started and (b) concluded at Porton Down into the development of an acellular DTP vaccine; how much the research programme cost; and when and for what reasons the Government decided to purchase such vaccines in the United States rather than continue development in the UK. [80646]

Ms Jowell

Work on acellular pertussis vaccine commenced at the Centre for Applied Microbiology and Research (CAMR) (as the then named Microbiological Research Establishment under the Ministry of Defence) in 1974 and continued until 1993–94. Costs for the period 1974 to 1979 when the centre was under the Ministry of Defence are not available. Costs to the Public Health Laboratory Service (PHLS) and the Department from 1979 to 1993–94 (when the PHLS managed CAMR) were some £2.7 million, although some additional costs would have been incurred by PHLS and the Medical Research Council for clinical trials and by Porton Speywood for vaccine manufacture and trials.

The acellular pertussis vaccine development at CAMR was discontinued when the CAMR vaccine was not selected by international researchers for inclusion in trials comparing candidate pertussis vaccines. However, the agglutinogen components, the novel feature of the CAMR vaccine, were subsequently incorporated into a Canadian manufactured vaccine, along with other components not in the CAMR vaccine. This Canadian vaccine has been shown in studies to be the only acellular vaccine to provide protection comparable to that from the presently used UK whole cell pertussis vaccine. The studies have also shown that there is little difference in the level of local reactions and fever seen after use of the United Kingdom whole cell pertussis vaccine when compared to acellular pertussis vaccines under the immunisation schedule used in the UK.

The United States of America manufactured acellular vaccine purchased for UK use was chosen since it was the only single antigen, that is pertussis only, vaccine available.

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