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By Jim Kouri
Posted 1:00 AM Eastern
March 3, 2008

In a criminal case guaranteed to send shockwaves throughout the international pharmaceutical industry, French authorities are targeting a US-based drug company and its executives in a homicide investigation.

The multi-billion dollar corporation GlaxoSmithKline and one of its key executives are facing possible manslaughter charges stemming from allegations that the company failed to fully disclose side effects from an anti-Hepatitis "B" vaccine distributed between 1994 and 1998.

Also being investigated is the French-based drug company Sanofi Pasteur, which also sold doses of the Hepatitis "B" vaccine, according to French news sources

"The investigations are in response to allegations that the companies failed to fully disclose side effects from an anti-hepatitis B drug used between 1994 and 1998," stated the French source.

Hepatitis B is a serious disease caused by a virus that attacks the liver. The virus, which is called hepatitis B virus (HBV), can cause lifelong infection, cirrhosis (scarring) of the liver, liver cancer, liver failure, and death, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

This virus spread through having sex with an infected person without using a condom (the efficacy of latex condoms in preventing infection with Hepatitis "B" is unknown, but their proper use might reduce transmission), by sharing drugs, needles, or "works" when injecting drugs, through needlesticks or sharps exposures on the job, or from an infected mother to her baby during birth.

In the US, the Hep "B" vaccine is usually mandated by the states for physicians, nurses, hospital workers, law enforcement officers, prison guards and others who are likely to come into contact with those at-risk of carrying the virus.

Between 1994 and 1998, close to two-thirds of the French population, and almost all newborn babies, received a hepatitis B vaccine. The vaccination campaign was halted after concerns arose over the shot's side effects.

While more than 25 plaintiffs, including the families of five people who died after the vaccination, have launched a civil action in the case against the drug companies, it is the criminal charges that have had a chilling effect on pharmceutical companies.

"While conservatives may believe in limited government, when it comes to life and death, they usually favor government action including the use of the criminal justice system to protect American lives from amoral corporate executives," said political strategist Mike Baker.

"Maybe if the pharmaceutical [company] bigwigs see their colleagues frog-walked to prison, they will think twice before distributing shoddy vaccines," said Baker.

"I believe police departments should set up special units to investigate deaths attributed to vaccines, especially those that are mandatory for children," said former NYPD Detective Sid Frances.

"A killers are killers, whether they wear hip-hop outfits or three-piece Armani suits," he said. Det. Frances even believes investigators in the US should target government officials who mandate vaccinations, especially in the public schools.

In a related case, this time in Russia, prosecutors are actively investigating GlaxoSmithKline for illegal vaccine experiments on children. Experimental vaccine¬ tests on minors are illegal in Russia, according to a report by the Alliance for Human Research Protection.

A statement posted on the Prosecutor General's Web site indicates that investigators began the probe at a hospital about 550 miles southeast of Moscow, after several children who received the experimental vaccines without parental consent fell ill and parents raised questions, according to the AHRP report.

The statement said that more than 100 children between the ages of one and two were vaccinated during the trials.The vaccines: Varilrix, for chickenpox, Priorix, for mumps, measles and rubella, and Priorix Tetra, would treat all four diseases, have since been halted.

Russian prosecutors said parents had been told the vaccines were humanitarian aid, while the deputy director of the hospital involved had been paid $50,000 to participate in the trials. contacted the Centers for Disease Control headquarters to obtain information on any investigations being conducted in the United States. According to the CDC Press Room, there are no US criminal investigations involving vaccines, and there are no criminal complaints involving vaccinations.

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"The CDC is a public health organization, not a law enforcement agency. We should have police units at the state and/or local level to investigate deaths and suspicious illnesses due to vaccinations and products being sold by pharmaceutical companies," claims Mike Baker.

"Most of the companies have no allegiance to America. They view the US merely as the 'home office,'" he added.

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A formal investigation as been launched by French authorities against two managers from drug companies GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi Pasteur. A second investigation for manslaughter has also been opened against Sanofi Pasteur MSD, according to French news sources.