Hepatitis B Vaccination and the Risk of Demyelinating Disease in France

Authors: Isabelle Chivoret


The difficult determinations of causation that arise in tort cases are particularly troublesome to the courts and lawyers when plaintiffs claim that the use of a defendant’s product caused their injuries or disease. A perfect illustration of this issue is the concern that hepatitis B vaccine may cause or exacerbate a demyelinating disease in exceptional cases, in particular multiple sclerosis and Guillain-Barré syndrome. Indeed, scientific available data does not support such a suggestion, but French judgments specify circumstances under which the causal relationship between these vaccines and these diseases may be proven by presumptions of fact. In these cases, the opportunity to use presumptions for proving such a link does not seem to be justified