Cancer not cervical cancer vaccine killed UK teen

LONDON Thu Oct 1, 2009 2:02pm EDT

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LONDON (Reuters) - The teenage girl who died shortly after being immunized against cervical cancer was killed by a malignant chest tumor and not by a reaction to the vaccine manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline, an inquest heard on Thursday.

Natalie Morton, 14, fell ill on Monday after being vaccinated at her school under a national immunization program against the sexually transmitted human papilloma virus (HPV).

She died a few hours later after being admitted to hospital.

"The pathologist has confirmed today at the opening of the inquest into the death of Natalie Morton that she died from a large malignant tumor of unknown origin in the heart and lungs," said Dr Caron Grainger, joint director of public health for the Coventry area where Natalie died.

"There is no indication that the HPV vaccine, which she had received shortly before her death, was a contributing factor to the death, which could have arisen at any point," Grainger said in a statement.

In paying tribute to Natalie, her stepfather Andrew Bullock said she was "kind, fun-loving and had a beautiful smile."

"We will miss her very much," he told reporters.

The Department of Health said the immunization program was continuing and that to date more than 1.4 million doses of Cervarix have been administered.

Manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline had recalled the batch of vaccine used at the school pending an investigation.

"GSK's deepest sympathies lie with the parents at this very sad time," said a spokeswoman on Thursday, adding that she did not want to comment further.

The program to vaccinate girls aged 12 to 13 began in September 2008 to fight cervical cancer, which is the 12th most common women's cancer in Britain, killing more than 1,000 each year.

News of Morton's death came shortly before U.S. health regulators again delayed a decision on whether to allow Glaxo to sell Cervarix in the United States where a panel of specialists has recommended its use.

An advisory panel to Japan's Health Ministry backed the vaccine earlier this week.

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