Vaccines are rigorously tested, says EMA expert

Gary Finnegan

Gary Finnegan

December 7th, 2010

Gary Finnegan

‘Modern vaccines are safer than those used decades ago and the Europe’s approval process for new vaccines is “rigorous”, yet public concern over vaccine safety has grown in recent years.’

QualityVaccines Today caught up with a key expert at the European Medicines Agency (EMA), the London-based EU body responsible for the scientific evaluation of medicines, to find out more about how vaccines are regulated.

Dr Pieter Neels, Vice Chair of the Vaccines Working Party of the EMA and member of the Committee for Medical Products for Human Use (CHMP), says that the stringent process for approving vaccines is similar to that applied to other medicines.

However, he said the fundamental difference is that vaccines are given to healthy people so there are greater sensitivities around safety issues. On top of that, he said the fact that many vaccine-preventable diseases are now seen so rarely in Europe that the public no longer appreciates the damage that can be done by measles or tetanus.

Dr Neels said progress in vaccine research means that children who receive vaccinations are now given far fewer antigens than in the past and he was critical of how some anti-vaccine groups represent the risk associated with immunisation.

“We can eradicate measles completely. It’s such a pity that people don’t understand that we could do this,” he said.

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Dr Pieter Neels, Vice Chair of the Vaccine Group of the European Medicines Agency’s Committee for Medical Products for Human Use, was speaking to Gary Finnegan