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The Ring Irish College case

Date
1931-1939
Reference
WF/L/02
Part of
Wellcome Foundation Ltd
  • Archives and manuscripts

Collection contents

About this work

Description

Diphtheria vaccine litigation: correspondence files, specialist reports, court papers, and press coverage.

"At the end of 1936, 38 children at Ring Irish College in County Waterford, Ireland, were inoculated with diphtheria vaccine from a single bottle of BW&Co's TAF. Five months later, one of the children died from miliary tuberculosis and 23 came down with the disease in varying forms, but recovered. The inquest in the following June was attended by O'Brien and Parish on behalf of the Wellcome Foundation. The school medical officer, Dr D T McCarthy, was exonerated of all culpability by the jury, who declared that the vaccine bottle must have contained tubercle bacilli." Roy Church and E M Tansey, Burroughs Wellcome & Co: knowledge, trust, profit and the transformation of the British pharmaceutical industry, 1880-1940 (2007), p. 353.

Both Dr McCarthy and The Wellcome Foundation Ltd were sued, unsuccessfully, for damages by the girl's father.

Church and Tansey (2007) provide a useful summary, as do extensive contemporaneous newspaper reports (WF/L/02/35-36). See also "Brief for Counsel (Pleadings and Evidence) on behalf of the Defendants, The Wellcome Foundation Ltd" (WF/L/02/34), which is fully indexed.

Publication/Creation

1931-1939

Physical description

36 files

Ownership note

Please see main WF collection description (ref. 'WF').

Copyright note

Copyright assigned to the Wellcome Trust

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