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Canadian paper retreats after vaccine story sparks furor

BMJ 2015; 350 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.h890 (Published 18 February 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;350:h890
  1. Michael McCarthy
  1. 1Seattle

The publisher of Canada’s largest circulation daily, the Toronto Star, has acknowledged that the paper mishandled a story that suggested a link between the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine Gardasil and serious illness and deaths.

However, speaking on Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) Radio’s news program As It Happens on 11 February, the paper’s publisher, John Cruickshank, faulted the presentation, not the substance, of the story. “We failed in this case. We let down. And it was in the management in the story at the top. I take responsibility, and we will focus on doing better in the future.”

The controversial story ran on the front page of the paper’s 5 February issue under the banner headline “A wonder drug’s dark side” and was topped with a sub-headline reading, “Although hundreds of thousands of girls in Canada have safely taken Gardasil, at least 60 Canadians experienced debilitating illnesses after inoculation.”1

The article, …

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