This is an HTML version of an attachment to the Freedom of Information request 'Summary Minutes for CHM meeting on 16th & 17th July 2015'.

RESTRICTED COMMERCIAL 
 
CHM …2015 
 
NOT FOR PUBLICATION 

  
  
 
 
COMMISSION ON HUMAN MEDICINES 

 
 
Title of paper: 
Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine – update on safety 
 Type of paper: For advice 
  
Product:
  
Marketing Authorisation Holder 
Gardasil 
(MAH): 
Cervarix 
GSK 
Sanofi Pasteur MSD 
Active Constituent: 
 
 
Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine 
 
Therapeutic area: 
Legal status: 
vaccines 
POM 
 
Previous assessments: 
Assessors:  
n/a 
Redacted (section 40 personal 
 
information) 
 
 
 

 

RESTRICTED COMMERCIAL 
 
CHM …2015 
NOT FOR PUBLICATION 
 
 
 
 
 
 
COMMISSION ON HUMAN MEDICINES 
 

HUMAN PAPILLOMAVIRUS (HPV) VACCINE – UPDATE ON SAFETY 
CONTENTS   
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Page 
BACKGROUND  
 

 
THE UK IMMUNISATION PROGRAMME 
 
 
 

MHRA PHARMACOVIGILANCE STRATEGY  
AND PREVIOUS SAFETY REVIEWS    
 
 
 

CURRENT ASSESSMENT OF CERVARIX 
 
 
 

CURRENT ASSESSMENT OF GARDASIL 
 
 
 
12 
RECENT UK MEDIA INTEREST IN HPV VACCINES   
 
16 
SPECIFIC EVENTS REPORTED 
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)  
 
 
 
23 
Guillain Barre Syndrome (GBS)   
 
 
 
23 
Acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM)  
 
24 
Primary ovarian failure (POF) 
 
 
 
 
24 
Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) 
 
 
25 
Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS)    
29 
Small Fibre Neuropathy    
  
 3

 
REVIEWS BY THE WORLD HEALTH ORGANISATION  
AND US HEALTH AUTHORITIES 
 
 
 
 
40 
CONCLUSION 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
41 
 
ADVICE SOUGHT    
  
  
 42 
ANNEXES    
  
  
  
42 
 

 

 
RESTRICTED COMMERCIAL
  
CHM July 2015 
NOT FOR PUBLICATION 
  
  
 
 
1.  ISSUE 
This paper provides an update on the safety of human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine 
in advance of the UK assuming EU lead on pharmacovigilance of Gardasil 9 HPV 
vaccine.  
 
2.  BACKGROUND 
2.1.  Current HPV vaccines 
Two vaccines that provide protection against HPV infection are currently authorised 
in the EU; Gardasil (Sanofi Pasteur MSD) and Cervarix (GSK). Cervarix is a bivalent 
vaccine, providing protection against HPV types 16 and 18. Gardasil is a 
quadrivalent vaccine, providing protection against HPV types 16, 18, 6 and 11. The 
Summary of Product Characteristics (SmPC) for Gardasil and Cervarix are at annex 
1 and 2 respectively. 
Both vaccines are authorised in many non-EU countries and it is estimated that more 
than 50 million doses of Cervarix and more than 150 million doses of Gardasil have 
been distributed worldwide.  
Gardasil and Cervarix are ‘centrally-authorised’ in Europe, with Sweden and Belgium 
the respective EU ‘Rapporteurs’. 
 
2.2.  Gardasil ‘9’ vaccine 
Gardasil 9 received a positive CHMP opinion in March 2015 and a Commission 
Decision on 3 July. Gardasil 9 provides protection against HPV types 16, 18, 6 and 
11, as well as oncogenic types 31, 33, 45, 52 and 58.  
The only differences between Gardasil 9 and Gardasil is the likely authorised dosage 
schedule (3 doses, whereas Gardasil currently allows 2 doses) and the additional 5 
antigens (virus-like particles; VLPs). During the EU licensing procedure for Gardasil 
9, it was accepted that the safety profile was broadly the same as Gardasil and no 
additional pharmacovigilance activities were imposed. However, as Gardasil and 
Gardasil 9 may be initially co-marketed, there is a requirement for Sanofi Pasteur 
MSD to minimise the risk of product confusion or inadvertent mixed-schedule (which 
could impact immunogenicity for the additional 5 HPV types) through appropriate 
communications. 

 

As yet, Gardasil 9 is not marketed in the EU, although it was granted a licence in the 
USA in December 2014. In the near future, it is possible that Gardasil 9 could 
become the main HPV in use, not only in Europe but global y.  
No announcement has been made on whether or not the UK will switch to using 
Gardasil 9 in the near future. If it is used in the UK and given the similarity to 
Gardasil, which has been in routine use in the UK since 2012, MHRA will take the 
same approach to pharmacovigilance as it does for Gardasil. As with all vaccines, 
this involves near real-time surveillance and a proactive approach to signal 
detection, utilising CPRD data and ‘observed vs expected’ analysis of adverse 
events of interest where necessary. 
Sweden is CHMP Rapporteur for Gardasil 9. However, the UK is the ‘PRAC1 
Rapporteur’ for Gardasil 9 meaning that, once authorised, MHRA will lead on all of 
the routine EU post-authorisation pharmacovigilance and risk management activities 
for Gardasil 9. Therefore, in advance of MHRA assuming the EU PRAC 
Rapporteurship of Gardasil 9, advice from CHM is sought on the safety experience 
with Gardasil, as well as an update on the UK safety experience with Cervarix (used 
routinely in the UK until 2012). 
 
3.  THE UK IMMUNISATION PROGRAMME 
HPV vaccine was introduced in the UK in September 2008 and is routinely offered to 
girls aged 12-13 years (older girls were also offered the vaccine as part of an initial 
‘catch-up’ campaign). Cervarix was purchased for use in the routine UK programme 
from 2008 to 2012, and Gardasil replaced this (for contractual reasons) from 
September 2012.  
Gardasil is currently offered to all 12-13 year girls in the UK via school-based 
programmes as a two dose schedule (0 and at least 6 months later). Cervarix and 
Gardasil are available on the UK market and may still be used privately at other 
ages. 
                                             
1 The European Medicines Agency’s Pharmacovigilance Risk Assessment Committee (PRAC) 

 

3.1.  Expected benefits of the HPV vaccination programme in the UK2 
There are over 100 types of HPV, 40 of which can infect the genital tract.  Of these, 
13 have been associated with cervical cancer.  Types 16 and 18 are linked with over 
70% of cervical cancers in England.  Infection with HPV is very common. Most of 
these infections do not lead to cervical cancer, but in some people the infection can 
persist and cause cervical abnormalities which, if left undetected and untreated, can 
lead to cervical cancer.  In most cases this develops over many years. 
3.2.  Cervical cancer 
Cervical cancer is the most common cancer among women aged 15 to 34 years, 
with around 2,500 cases of invasive cancer diagnosed in 2012. It is anticipated that 
the HPV vaccine will eventually prevent several hundred deaths each year from 
cervical cancer in the UK. 
Public Health England introduced a set of surveillance activities when the 
vaccination programme started.  Although the expected decrease in cervical cancer 
(a disease which peaks in women between 25 and 50) will be seen in some years’ 
time, a reduction in the circulation of HPV types 16 and 18 was expected before this.   
A study3 comparing samples from sexually active young women, aged 16 to 24 in 
2008, to similar samples from 2010-2012 found that high risk HPV infections (type 16 
and 18) decreased from around 1 in 5 women prior to the immunisation programme, 
to 1 in 15 following its introduction.  The effect was most marked in the age group 
with the highest vaccination coverage.  
3.3.  Genital warts and other cancers 
HPV is also associated with other rarer types of anogenital cancers and some 
cancers of the head and neck.  Where HPV is linked to these cancers, types 16 and 
18 (the vaccine strains) are the most commonly found.  The vaccination programme 
is expected to contribute to a decrease in these cancers over time. 
Gardasil also protects against two low risk HPV types 6 and 11, which cause over 
90% of genital warts.  Genital warts are the most common viral sexually transmitted 
infection in the UK, with over 71,000 new diagnoses in total in England in 2013.  
Between 2008 and 2013, a significant decrease of 28% in genital warts diagnoses 
                                             
2 Information taken from briefing prepared by Public Health England - Further details about HPV virus, 
the disease and the vaccine, including references for the statistics and figures given above can be 

found at the fol owing links; 
https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/345955/8874-HPV-the-
Facts-05.pdf and 
https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/412264/HPV_Vaccine_
Coverage_in_England_200809_to_201314.pdf 
3 http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0264410X13014928  

 


were seen for females aged 15-19 and 17% for 15-19 year old males. Much of this 
trend has been suggestive of an unexpected moderate protective effect from the 
HPV 16/18 (Cervarix) vaccination against genital warts.  It is anticipated that the 
incidence of genital warts will continue to decline, with the introduction of Gardasil in 
2012, as has been seen in other countries using this vaccine for a longer period of 
time (Drolet et al. Lancet ID 2015).   
3.4.  Vaccine exposure in the UK 
In England, approximately 3.3 mil ion girls were eligible to receive the vaccine either 
routinely at 12-13 years or as part of the catch-up campaign. By the end of August 
2014 approximately 2.3 million girls had received three doses of HPV vaccine since 
the start of the programme (PHE, 2015). For the first six years of the programme full 
course coverage for the routine cohorts averaged 86%, while for the older catch-up 
cohorts it was 49%. 
The following table relates to data from England only. Taking into account further 
doses administered since August 2014, and all doses administered in Scotland, 
Wales and Northern Ireland since 2008, (as well as any doses administered 
privately) the total figure will be closer to (if not more than) 9 million doses and closer 
to (if not more than) 3 million vaccinees across the UK.  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 


 
 
4.  MHRA PHARMACOVIGILANCE STRATEGY AND PREVIOUS SAFETY 
REVIEWS  
4.1.  Cervarix 
In 2008, as the UK was the first country in the world to launch a national 
immunisation programme with the Cervarix brand of HPV vaccine, MHRA put in 
place an ‘enhanced’, proactive pharmacovigilance strategy. The key elements of this 
approach were: 
  Daily assessment and categorisation of all suspected new ADRs  
  A proactive communication plan 
o  Issuing a letter to healthcare professionals involved in the immunisation 
programme to encourage use of the Yellow Card Scheme 
o  Weekly Publication of ‘Suspected Adverse Reaction Analysis’ reports 
which provided an ongoing assessment of all suspected adverse 
events cumulatively reported via the Yellow Card Scheme  
  Weekly teleconference with the MAH (GSK) to discuss any new or emerging 
safety issues identified from non-UK data sources 
  Modified disproportionality analysis methods (Empirical Bayes Geometric 
Mean or EBGM) to conduct routine and modified signal detection analyses.  
  Proactive and near real-time ‘observed vs expected’ analysis of key ‘adverse 
events of interest’. This approach involved using data from the Clinical 
Practice Research Datalink (CPRD) to calculate age-specific background 
incidence rates of adverse events of interest and vaccine usage estimates to 
derive an ‘expected’ rate of events. On an ongoing basis, the number of 
Yellow Card reports were compared against the ‘expected’ rate using 

 

statistical methods (Maximised Sequential Probability Ratio Test; MaxSPRT) 
and adjustments are made for possible levels of under-reporting. This 
analysis allows possible new risks to be identified rapidly, and can give some 
assurance when the ‘observed’ is well within the ‘expected’. 
On 30 July 2010, at the end of the 2nd school year of the programme, MHRA 
reverted to routine pharmacovigilance for Cervarix vaccine. However, ‘observed vs 
expected’ analysis remained in place (and is now a standard and routine method that 
MHRA has in place for all vaccines). 
CHM was presented with four updates on Cervarix safety; two in 2009 (6 month and 
1 year update), 2010 (two years into the routine UK programme) and in 2012 (at four 
years and the end of routine UK use).  
At the time of the 2012 update (paper at annex 3), over 6 million doses of Cervarix 
had been administered in the UK and MHRA had received 6,213 Yel ow Card reports 
(including 364 reports with unspecified brand). The overall reporting rate was around 
1 Yel ow Card per 1,000 doses administered. CHM agreed that this reporting rate 
was not unexpected for a newly marketed vaccine used within a new national 
immunisation programme with such high vaccine exposure over a four year period. 
Case reviews and/or ‘observed vs expected’ analysis were considered for reports of 
Guillain Barre Syndrome (n=5), encephalitis [including 3 reported as N-methyl-D-
aspartate (NMDA) receptor encephalitis] (n=7), Bell’s palsy (n=9), convulsions 
(n=97), and complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS, n=6). CHM agreed that the 
available information did not support a causal association with such events given the 
case details, high vaccine uptake and knowledge of background rates of such 
events. 
Furthermore in June 2009 CHM specifically considered reports of chronic fatigue 
syndrome (CFS) in association with Cervarix. The CHM agreed that the number of 
cases of suspected CFS and other possible chronic fatigue like syndrome did not 
represent a safety signal since many more cases would have been expected to 
occur by chance amongst the number of girls immunised so far. Further to this, 
MHRA has completed an epidemiological study which found no evidence of an 
increased risk of CFS following Cervarix. The results of this study were published in 
a peer-reviewed scientific journal in 2013 (Vaccine. 2013 Oct 9;31(43):4961-7). See 
section 8 below. 
Overall, CHM advised that no serious new risks had been identified in association 
with Cervarix and the balance of risks and benefits of the vaccine remains positive.  
4.2.  Gardasil 
As there was already a significant level of safety experience with Gardasil through 
administration of tens of millions of doses in other countries at the time it replaced 

 

Cervarix in the UK programme, MHRA did not put in the place the same ‘enhanced’, 
pharmacovigilance strategy as for Cervarix. However, proactive pharmacovigilance 
utilising near real-time ‘observed vs expected’ analysis was put in place (and 
remains in place, as for all vaccines) and Gardasil safety has remained under close 
evaluation by the MHRA since 2012. 
5.  CURRENT ASSESSMENT OF CERVARIX 
5.1.  UK data 
Since the 2012 CHM paper and up to 30 June 2015, MHRA has received a further 
419 Yellow Card reports (72 serious) in association with Cervarix (and 15 
unspecified brand with date of vaccine administration before September 2012). 
These are summarised in annexes 4 and 5. Given that Cervarix is no longer used in 
the routine programme, this level of reporting after September 2012 will be due a 
combination of delayed reporting and retrospective reporting. 
These reports have remained under continual review and no new safety concerns 
have been identified. Most reports related to the known side effects of vaccination 
(as well as reports of fainting). For the one event with a fatal outcome, non-
Hodgkins’s lymphoma, there is no indication that this was due to vaccination. 
We have received a further 11 reports of CFS and 1 report of complex regional pain 
syndrome (CRPS) (this report had unspecified brand with a date of administration 
prior to September 2012). CFS and CRPS are discussed below. 
We have received two reports of encephalitis autoimmune. One included a diagnosis 
of Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS) and is included in annex 28. 
The other was a patient report reported by GSK from the SaneVax website and with 
no information on confirmation of diagnosis. It described a 13 yr old whose “life 
turned into an extended nightmare” 5 days after vaccination with Cervarix. The 
patient spent months in hospital and was diagnosed with anti-NMDA receptor 
encephalitis. At the time of reporting the outcome of the events was unspecified. 
Based on the details on the SaneVax website, this case is a likely duplicate of one of 
the reports included in the 2012 review. 
We have received 2 reports of narcolepsy with cataplexy. In one case a parent 
reported that her daughter immediately “fell unwell with the symptoms of narcolepsy 
and cataplexy”. It was reported that she was admitted to hospital on a number of 
occasions, consulted a number of neurologists, and consulted specialists in 
narcolepsy and cataplexy, and had undertook a sleep study to confirm diagnosis. 
The second report was also a parent report with very vague details and no 
confirmation of diagnosis, but with a reported onset of around 4 years after 
vaccination. We have also received 3 reports of hypersomnia, but there is no 
indication of narcolepsy in these reports. 

 

The one report of ‘autoimmune disorder’ related to a report of lupus-like syndrome 
occurring “less than one year after vaccination with Cervarix”. Diagnosis has not 
been confirmed. 
Other specific adverse events reported in temporal association with either brand of 
vaccine are discussed in section 8 below, including five reports of POTS (including 
one autonomic nervous system imbalance) following Cervarix (one of the five reports 
had unspecified brand with an administration date before September 2012).  
5.2.  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
5.3.  
 
5.4. 
 
 
 
 
 
10 
 

 
 
 
5.5. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
11 
 

5.6.  Evaluation of spontaneous reports of autoimmune events 
The MAH performed a detailed analysis of a very wide range of possible 
autoimmune events as part of its routine pharmacovigilance activities. This is 
discussed in detail in section 2.3.1.1 of annex 6. 
This review compiled the cases of potential autoimmune disorders reported from 
launch (17 May 2007) up to 31 August 2014 in 371 subjects who had received 
vaccination with Cervarix (or an unspecified HPV vaccine). Cases were reported 
most frequently from Japan (132/ 6,998,413 doses), The United Kingdom (70/ 
8,667,679 doses), Italy (26/2,228,149 doses) and Germany (25/668,037doses). The 
distribution in number of case reports reflects the distribution of doses cumulatively 
in these countries, with most of the doses that have been distributed in the United 
Kingdom and Japan. Cumulatively, the most frequently reported MedDRA PTs were 
SLE (35 cases), VIIth nerve paralysis/facial paresis (35 cases), Guillain-Barre 
syndrome (30 cases), Juvenile arthritis (25 cases), Optic neuritis (20 cases), Immune 
thrombocytopenic purpura (16 cases), ADEM (15 cases), Alopecia areata (14 
cases), Erythema multiforme (12 cases), Multiple sclerosis, Demyelination and (10 
cases) and Encephalitis/encephalitis autoimmune (n=16). 
The analysis included  ‘observed vs expected’ evaluation of optic neuritis, multiple 
sclerosis, peripheral neuropathies, demyelination disorders, Bell’s palsy, ADEM/TM 
(see below), Guillain Barre Syndrome (see below), amongst many more events. 
None of these analyses identified a new safety signal. 
Other than the risks that are currently included the SmPC for Cervarix (see annex 2) 
and based on the most recent PSUR, the Rapporteur concluded that no additional 
new risks have been confirmed during post-marketing use to date.  
Specific adverse events reported in temporal association with either brand of vaccine 
are discussed in section 8 below. 
 
6.  CURRENT ASSESSMENT OF GARDASIL 
6.1.  UK data 
To date (24/06/2015), MHRA has received 1,483 Yellow Cards in association with 
Gardasil. The MHRA has also received 151 reports since 31/07/2012 with 
unspecified brand of which 61 reported the date of vaccine administration after 
September 2012 (the 75 reports with unknown brand and date of administration are 
included in this section). These are summarised in annex 7 and 8. 
With at least 1.5 million doses administered, the overal  reporting rate for Gardasil 
and any brand of HPV vaccine remains around 1 Yellow Card per 1,000 doses 
12 
 

administered. The number of serious4 reports is 514, representing 35% of all reports. 
This proportion is not too dissimilar to that for Cervarix (28% of total).  
The overall reporting pattern is very similar to that of Cervarix, with the majority of 
reports relating to the known side effects of vaccination (as well as reports of 
fainting). The two events with a fatal outcome were due to leukaemia and a baby 
born prematurely. There is no indication that these were due to vaccination. Isolated 
reports of serious suspected ADRs remain under review, but this has not raised any 
new safety signals.  
We have received 8 reports of CFS (six of these had no brand or date of 
administration), 2 of complex regional pain syndrome. CFS and CRPS are discussed 
below. 
We have received 2 reports of encephalitis (one of these had no brand or date of 
administration). One included a diagnosis of POTS and is included in annex 28. The 
other case was identified from a magazine article in 2011 (and therefore likely 
associated with Cervarix). It has been confirmed as duplicate of one of the reports 
included in the 2012 review. On an unreported date post vaccination, the patient was 
diagnosed with encephalitis. 
We have received 2 reports of narcolepsy (one with cataplexy). One is most likely a 
duplicate of one of the cases mentioned under Cervarix above. The other report was 
also a parent report with very little detail or confirmation of diagnosis but within onset 
reported as the same month as vaccination. The date of onset was 2011 so it is 
likely that Cervarix was given. We have also received 6 reports of hypersomnia, but 
there is no indication of narcolepsy in these reports. 
Of the three reports of ‘autoimmune disorder’, one was concurrent with POTS 
(described below), one was a parent reported with unconfirmed diagnosis of a ‘post 
streptococcal disorders’, and one related to an unspecific dermatological disorder. 
Of the 6 reports of ‘activities of daily living impaired’, 2 were concurrent with CFS, 
one was with the above-mentioned dermatological disorder, one was associated with 
an injection site reaction (leading to reduced limb mobility), one was with post-viral 
gut motility disorder and one report related to muscle and joint disorder with chronic 
tiredness (reported in the media). 
                                             
4 The seriousness criteria for ADR reporting were determined by a working group of the Council for International Organizations 
of Medical Sciences (CIOMS) and are de fined as 6 po ssible categories which are explained on the  Yellow Card. MHRA asks 
reporters to select one of the following criteria by ticking the appropriate box on the Yel ow Card: (1) patient died due to reaction 
(2)  life th reatening (3)  resu lted i n h ospitalisation o r  prolonged i npatient  hospitalisation ( 4) co ngenital a bnormality an d (5) 
involved persistent or significant disability or i ncapacity or ( 6) if t he reaction was deemed medically significant. In addition to 
this, seriousness of reaction terms has also been defined by the MHRA in its medical dictionary. Therefore an ADR report can 
be serious because the reporter considers the reaction to be serious or because the reaction term itself is considered serious in 
the MHRA’s medical dictionary. 
 
13 
 

The one report of orthostatic hypotension was concurrent with POTS (see below). 
Specific adverse events reported in temporal association with either brand of vaccine 
are discussed in section 8 below, including six reports of POTS (including one 
autonomic nervous system imbalance) following Gardasil (one of these reports of 
POTS had no brand or date of administration).  
6.2.  
 
 
  
 
  
 
 
 
 
6.3.  
 
 
 
   
 
 
    
 
     
 
14 
 

   
      
  
    
 
   
 
   
 
 
 
 
  
  
     
   
  
  
15 
 

 
 
 
 
 
7.  RECENT UK MEDIA INTEREST IN HPV VACCINES 
There have also been several cases of suspected side effects to HPV vaccine 
brought to the attention of MHRA through the media and through correspondence 
(including Parliamentary correspondence). Many of these relate to reports already 
submitted via the Yellow Card Scheme. Many reports of alleged HPV vaccine side 
effects, mostly from outside the UK, are also described in internet fora and social 
media/patient and anti-vaccine networks (such as ‘SaneVax’ and ‘Arnica’). 
Besides the specific issues discussed in section 8 below, recent articles in the media 
have focused on the overall Yellow Card reporting rates for HPV as compared to 
other routinely used vaccines.  
On 31 May 2015, The Independent on Sunday ran a front page story with the 
headline “Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine 
school cancer vaccination
” (the actual article focused on a case of postural 
orthostatic tachycardia syndrome; POTS – see below). The headline was a 
misrepresentation of the table below that was issued by MHRA in response to a 
Freedom of Information request. Other newspapers picked up this headline, but 
stating “Tens of thousands…..” based on an assumption that only 10% of suspected 
ADRs are reported.  
16 
 



 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
7.0.  Overall safety profile and Yel ow Card reporting rates, and comparison 
with similar UK vaccine programmes 
The current ADR reporting rate for HPV vaccines in the UK is around 0.7 per 1,000 
doses administered (since 2008, overall rate is around 1 per 1,000 doses, based on 
just over 8,000 reports and at least 8 million doses given). This is currently greater 
than the ADR reporting rate for other routinely used vaccines, which range from 
0.04/1,000 doses for childhood pneumococcal vaccine to 0.2/1,000 doses for 
rotavirus vaccine. As an illustration, the following tables are estimated ADR reporting 
rates extracted from an update provided to JCVI in 2014: 
 
17 
 





 
 
 
 
 
18 
 




 
 
 
In terms of relative Yellow Card reporting profiles (not relative safety profiles), a 
suitable comparison to HPV vaccine is dT-IPV vaccine (Repevax) which is routinely 
given as a single dose to a similar age group (around 14 years of age) via a school-
based programme. A reporting rate was not included in the table below as dT-IPV 
vaccine is also used for tetanus boosting, and so the denominator is uncertain. 
However, as most ADR reports for dT-IPV vaccine are in the adolescent age group, 
we can reasonably assume a minimum annual exposure for 2013/14 in the table 
below 530,000 vaccinees (annual school cohort ~660,000 with assumed 80% 
vaccine uptake of a single dose).  
19 
 


 
Based on this, the estimated reporting rate for 2013/14 per 1,000 doses is 0.2/1,000 
(0.15 for serious ADRs). Whilst the overall reporting rate for HPV vaccine is around 
four-fold greater (two-fold for serious) than dT-IPV, this does not necessarily mean 
that side effects are occurring at a greater rate and many factors can influence 
different ADR reporting practice.  
For instance, for the first few years of the HPV programme Cervarix had Black 
Triangle status, which may have stimulated more reports of non-serious events. Of 
particular note, we understand that certain school nurse teams have specific 
processes in place to ask every vaccinee if they had any side effect after the 
subsequent dose, and to report these to us. Indeed, the top 10 reporters (school 
nurse teams) of Yellow Card reports following HPV vaccine have submitted over 
40% of all reports (more than 3,500), 87% of which were non-serious. 
Another factor in differential reporting behaviour is that most other vaccine 
programmes in the UK are well-established, and reporting rates are generally lower 
for older vaccines.  
The proportion of all suspected ADRs for HPV vaccines that were reported as 
serious (32%) is less than the proportion reported as serious for other routinely used 
vaccines (68% overall) during the same time period.  The vast majority of reports for 
HPV vaccine relate to suspected side effects that we expect to see for most types of 
vaccine given to adolescents and adults. These are most commonly dizziness, 
headache, nausea, sore arms, vomiting, general malaise, tiredness, fever, and 
rashes. These tend to be mild and transient. Many reports also relate to immediate 
fainting, which is not a side effect of the vaccine but a response that any type of 
needle insertion can provoke in some people.  
Finally, the following four tables compare the overall relative proportion of serious 
ADRs from each System Organ Class for vaccines routinely given to adolescents 
and adults (HPV, dT-IPV, influenza and hepatitis B vaccine - extracted from the 
Yellow Card update provided to JCVI in 2014). This shows a very similar pattern of 
reporting that reflects adverse events reporting (regardless of causality) in 
adolescent/adult vaccine programmes. 
20 
 



 
 
 
 
 
21 
 



 
 
 
In summary, an overall reporting rate of 1 Yellow Card per 1,000 doses administered 
in itself gives no cause for concern. The majority of these relate to the known 
adverse events expected of any adolescent/adult immunisation which are mostly 
non-serious, and the nature of reports (if not the current reporting rate) is broadly 
similar across adolescent/adult vaccines. Local clinical practice in the solicitation and 
22 
 

reporting of suspected ADRs is a factor in differential reporting rates, and the rate is 
still within the known frequency of common adverse events (e.g. the SmPC states 
that injection site reactions, headaches, dizziness, nausea etc can occur at rates 
around or above 10%). 
To give some historical context, when meningitis C vaccine was introduced in 1999, 
we received 13,000 Yellow Cards in the first year alone. The reporting rate per dose 
at the time, was also 1/1,000 doses given, and that was long before patients and 
carers were able to report suspected ADRs and before there was better access to 
the Yellow Card Scheme via on-line reporting.  
 
8.  SPECIFIC EVENTS REPORTED IN TEMPORAL ASSOCIATION WITH HPV 
VACCINES 
8.1.  Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) 
CFS has not been raised as a signal in any of the Gardasil or Cervarix PSURs to 
date. Prior to the start of the national HPV programme, MHRA undertook to evaluate 
CFS following HPV vaccination proactively, not due to any existing safety concern, 
but because we expected to receive many reports in temporal association with 
vaccination given the natural incidence in the cohort eligible for vaccination. In 
France and Canada, reports of CFS in temporal association with hepatitis B vaccines 
in adolescents in the 1990s led to a fall in confidence in vaccine safety. The MHRA 
strategy was therefore intended to gather robust data to evaluate any such case 
reports in the UK. 
As stated above, MHRA has completed an epidemiological study in 2013 which 
found no evidence of an increased risk of CFS following Cervarix. The results of this 
study were published in the journal Vaccine (2013 Oct 9;31(43):4961-7 - see annex 
11. 
To date MHRA has received, 25 reports of CFS in association with Cervarix and 1 in 
association with Gardasil and 9 brand not stated. As no safety signal has arisen in 
relation to CFS, MHRA does not currently plan to extend the epidemiological study to 
the time period when Gardasil has been used. 
8.2.  Guillain Barre Syndrome (GBS) 
At the time of the 2012 safety update, MHRA had received 5 reports of GBS 
following administration of more than 6 million doses of Cervarix. Given the expected 
background incidence of GBS, the ‘observed’ vs ‘expected’ analyses suggested that 
the reported cases are consistent with chance and there was no evidence of a safety 
signal for GBS in the UK. As of 30 June 2015, MHRA has received no additional 
reports of GBS following either vaccine. 
23 
 

A publication by Souayah et al (www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20869467) discussed 
cases of GBS following Gardasil reported to the US equivalent of the Yel ow Card 
Scheme for vaccines (VAERS). However, a US epidemiological study found no 
evidence of an association between Gardasil and GBS (see annex 12). 
GBS was included as a possible side effect in the Gardasil SmPC several years ago, 
mainly on the basis of evaluation of spontaneously reported cases worldwide. 
Despite the epidemiological study that found no evidence of an association, this 
remains in the Gardasil SmPC. 
GBS is not included in the Cervarix SmPC, as the available evidence does not 
support this. This is supported by the most recent ‘observed vs expected’ analysis in 
the last Cervarix PSUR (see annex 6). 
8.3.  Acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM)  
The MHRA has received no reports of ADEM in association with HPV vaccine. 
In 2014, ADEM was included as a possible side effect in the Gardasil SmPC on the 
basis of evaluation of spontaneously reported cases worldwide. The UK did not 
support this, on the basis that the observed-expected analyses undertaken can only 
be considered signal generating/strengthening, rather than supportive of a causal 
relationship. The potential biological mechanism suggested by the Rapporteur 
(molecular mimicry) was also speculative and should not be a significant factor in 
drawing a conclusion on causality.  
The last Cervarix PSUR included a detailed ‘observed vs expected’ analysis of 
reports of ADEM (refer to section 2.2.2.2 of annex 6). The Rapporteur concluded that 
the adverse event of ADEM [and TM] should not be included in the SmPC as there is 
no proof of causality between ADEM and Cervarix exposure. However, the MAH 
should continue to assess these events through PSURs. 
8.4.  Primary ovarian failure (POF) 
There have been literature and non-UK spontaneous reports of primary ovarian 
failure (POF) fol owing Gardasil. E.g. see annex 13. 
Primary ovarian failure is a condition that occurs naturally amongst the age range of 
girls who receive HPV vaccine. Little and Ward (see annex 13) highlight that the 
annual natural incidence of premature ovarian failure is 10 per 100,000 person-years 
between the ages of 15 and 29 years and that the cause of ovarian failure before the 
age of 40 years is unknown in up to 90% of cases. It affects 1 in 10,000 women by 
age 20, 1 in 1000 women by age 30, and 1 in 100 women by age 40 [Ferrarini E., et 
al 2013]. 
24 
 

Based on the background rate reported by Little and Ward, for every one million girls 
vaccinated, around 25 cases of premature ovarian failure would be expected to 
occur by coincidence within 3 months of vaccination.  
The MHRA has received 1 report of primary ovarian failure following HPV vaccine to 
date. With close to 3 million females vaccinated in the UK, there is no evidence that 
menstrual cycle abnormalities were occurring following vaccination any more than 
expected by chance amongst vaccinated girls.   
The last Cervarix PSUR included an analysis of reports of POF (refer to section 
2.2.2.1 of annex 6). Reports suggestive of primary ovarian failure remain under 
review. The Rapporteur concluded that the available data is currently insufficient to 
assess whether there is an increased risk of POF following vaccination with Cervarix, 
and that this should remain under review. 
The last Gardasil PSUR included an analysis of reports of POF (refer to page 37 of 
annex 9). The query of the Company safety data base yielded 11 medically 
confirmed reports which included the PT of ovarian failure or premature menopause 
received worldwide. 10 of the 11 cases were reported as non-serious. 
Geographically, 4 reports were received from Australia, 3 reports were received from 
Israel, 2 reports were received from the US, and 1 each was received from 
Singapore and Germany. Age was reported in 9 reports as follows: 13, 13, 14, 14, 
15, 16, 18, 21, and 43. The Rapporteur concluded that the reporting rate is 
approximately 0.8 reports per every 10 million doses distributed, and does not 
indicate a safety signal at present.  
8.5.  Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) 
Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) is characterised by severe pain, swelling 
and changes in the skin temperature and colour of the arms or legs. The cause of 
the syndrome is unknown but common predisposing conditions include trauma, 
infection, surgery, cervical radiculopathy, soft tissue contusions, fractures, tendon 
ruptures and myocardial infarction.  
Data on the incidence of CRPS are scarce and mostly hospital based. A 
retrospective cohort study conducted from 1996 to 2005 in the Integrated Primary 
Care Information (IPCI), a general practice research database with electronic patient 
record data from 600,000 patients across the Netherlands, estimates the overall 
incidence rate of CRPS as 26.2 per 100,000 person years (95% CI: 23.0-29.7)5. In 
this study the highest incidence occurred in females in the age category 61-70 years. 
The upper extremity was affected more frequently than the lower extremity and a 
fracture was the most common precipitating event (44%). Another study of the 1990 
population (n=106,470) medical records from the Mayo Clinic and Olmsted Medical 
                                             
5 De Mos M et al. The incidence of complex regional pain syndrome: a population-based study. Pain 
2007; 129(1-2):12-20 
25 
 

Group in Minnesota estimates the incidence rate as being much lower at 5.46 per 
100,000 person years at risk with the most common trigger fracture reported at a 
similar rate (46%)6 as the other study. The syndrome has been associated with 
vaccines such as rubella and Hepatitis B vaccines. While there is a clear temporal 
association in the majority of cases associated with the HPV  vaccine CRPS may be 
more likely attributed to needle trauma, as proposed by Genc et al.,20057, rather 
than the vaccine constituents. It is also possible that such reports were coincidental. 
At the time of the 2012 safety update, MHRA had received 6 reports of CRPS, 
following administration of more than 6 million doses of Cervarix. In order to further 
evaluate this signal the ‘snapshot’ Observed / Expected method was used for 
analysis using the incidence rates 26.2 per 100,000 person years and 5.46 per 
100,000 person years taken from the two published studies. Using these incidence 
rates and usage data from September 2008 up to the end of May 2012 the Observed 
/ Expected ratios were calculated as 0.03 (95% CI 0.01-0.07) and 0.16 (95% CI 0.06-
0.35) respectively. While this is a crude analysis using incidence rates not restricted 
to 12-18 year old females, in both cases since the O/E ratios are wel  below 1 these 
data indicate that the observed number of events are well below the events expected 
for this event in 12-18 year old girls who have received Cervarix.  
As of 30 June 2015, MHRA has received 5 reports of CRPS following Cervarix, 2 
following Gardasil and 3 with brand not stated (but most likely Cervarix based on the 
date).  
8.5.1.  Japanese suspension of HPV vaccine recommendation 
In June 2013 and only 2 months after the start of their HPV vaccine programme, the 
Japanese authorities temporarily stopped actively recommending immunisation with 
the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines, Cervarix and Gardasil in girls and young 
women.  The vaccines, however, remain licensed for use in Japan and continue to 
be available for girls and women who wish to receive them. Almost 9 million doses of 
HPV vaccine (mostly Cervarix) had been given in Japan before this. 
This action followed reports (around 40 at the time) of chronic pain in Japan, 
including several (five at the time) cases of complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS; 
a condition characterised by persistent burning pain in one or more limbs). The 
Japanese action was a precautionary move whilst they gathered more data. 
The symptoms were initially thought to be complex regional pain syndrome, which 
manifests as chronic pain after a needle stick (e.g., after blood col ection or 
vaccination), trauma, or other procedures/events resulting in pain. However, the 
                                             
6 Sandroni P et al. Complex regional pain syndrome type I: incidence and prevalence in Olmsted 
county, a population-based study. Pain 2003;103(1-2):199-207. 
7 Genc H et al. Complex regional pain syndrome type-I after rubella vaccine. Eur J Pain 2005; 9(5): 517-520. 
26 
 

characteristics of the reported clinical manifestations vary, especially time from 
injection to onset of symptoms, which ranges from immediately after to 2 years after 
vaccination. 
Several other differential diagnoses were proposed, including macrophagic 
myofasciitis, fibromyalgia, and chronic fatigue syndrome. After announcement of the 
temporary withdrawal, the number of cases reported to the government increased to 
121, as of September 2013. 8. In January, 2014, the Vaccine Adverse Reactions 
Review Committee investigating these adverse events concluded that there was no 
evidence to suggest a causal association between the HPV vaccine and the reported 
adverse events after vaccination, but they still did not reinstate proactive 
recommendations for its use9.  
The latest information available to MHRA is from April 2014. This suggested that an 
expert Committee in Japan had concluded that the cases may be psychosomatic in 
origin. However, this remains in confidence as Japan has made no formal public 
announcement.  
A letter to The Lancet in August 2013 was highly critical of the governance and 
decision-making around the Japanese immunisation programme10. A further letter to 
The Lancet on 27 June 2015 describes how HPV vaccine uptake has fallen from 
over 70% to less than 1% due to this issue8.  
A recent paper by Kinoshita et al (2014 - annex 14), described a series of cases of 
suspected CRPS following HPV vaccine in Japanese girls, some of whom also had 
POTS (see below). 
8.5.2.  
 
 
 
     
 
                                             
8 http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0264410X14008111 
9 Hanley et al. Vol 385 June 27, 2015 
10 http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(13)61831-0/fulltext#aff2 
27 
 


 
  
   
 
  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
   
 
    
                                             
1  
28 
 

 
 
8.6.  Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS) 
Annexes 15 to 22 include a range of background literature on POTS. 
8.6.1.  What is POTS? 
POTS is characterised by an abnormally large increase in heart rate when changing 
from a lying down to a standing up position, without any orthostatic hypotension. In 
POTS, this excessive heart rate increase is usually accompanied by a range of 
symptoms of orthostatic intolerance. These symptoms may include palpitations, light 
headedness, weakness, ‘brain-fog’, peripheral coldness and purplish skin 
discolouration and blurred vision. Some sufferers also experience fainting. 
Although defined and diagnosed mainly by the tachycardia and orthostatic 
symptoms, POTS is often associated with a wide range of other symptoms such as 
migraine-like headaches, chronic aches and pains,  gastrointestinal symptoms 
(nausea, bloating, abdominal pain),  sleep disturbance and shortness of breath. In 
particular, fatigue is a very common feature. Many people diagnosed with POTS are 
chronically fatigued, have sleep disturbance and are unable to perform daily 
functions. There is now recognised to be a significant overlap between POTS and 
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS). 
There is no set pattern of symptoms in POTS sufferers and, aside from the defining 
symptom of tachycardia, different people will show different symptoms. This wide 
spectrum of symptoms probably reflects that the fact that the syndrome has several 
distinct pathophysiological mechanisms. 
In many people diagnosed with POTS, the range of symptoms can have a 
detrimental impact on the overall quality of life. Anxiety, depression, and other 
psychiatric disorders can also add to the complexity of the syndrome (Jarjour 2013 – 
annex 15). Patients with POTS are sometimes clinically diagnosed as having anxiety 
disorders such as panic disorder (Raj 2013 – annex 22).  
 
8.6.2.  How is POTS diagnosed?  
Sufferers will generally present to their GP with gradual and chronic symptoms of 
orthostatic intolerance and fatigue.  Such symptoms can be non-specific and have 
causes other than POTS, and so a diagnosis of POTS may not be clear cut.  
29 
 

If other causes are ruled out, POTS may be diagnosed if these chronic symptoms 
are also associated with an excessive increase in heart rate when changing from 
supine to a standing up position. For POTS to be diagnosed, patients need to 
experience a sustained increase of 30 beats per minute or more within 10 minutes of 
standing (or with tilt table test), without a fall in blood pressure. For those aged 12–
19 years this increase should be least 40 beats/min (Sheldon et al; 2015 - see annex 
17). 
8.6.3.  Is POTS new, and how well-recognised is it? 
POTS began to be defined in adults in the mid-1990s (Schondrof and Low ; 1993), 
but is likely to have existed long before then, with different names or diagnoses. 
POTS has been described in adolescents since around 1999, and since then 
awareness of the syndrome has increased. Over the past 15 years, a wide range of 
medical literature has described POTS and there appears to be an increasing 
awareness of the syndrome in the medical community. 
POTS is still thought to be under-diagnosed and, according to Kizilbish et al (annex 
16), some clinicians still do not recognise it as a legitimate diagnosis. 
 
8.6.4.  What are the features of POTS in adolescents? 
A recent review by Kizilbash et al (2014 – annex 16), from the US Mayo Clinic, 
summarises what is currently known about POTS in adolescence.  
Whilst each patient has a unique set of symptoms, it is said that their stories often 
sound familiar. Parents and adolescent patients with POTS often describe the long 
and difficult process they experience from the moment they became ill, to decreased 
school attendance with dropped extracurricular activities and poor academic 
performance, to visiting a variety of doctors in order to find answers about their 
child's illness. In this process, they often receive different diagnoses. 
Acording to Kizilbash et al, there are several typical features retrospectively identified 
in many adolescent POTS patients at presentation, including symptom onset during 
early puberty, high achievers in school and athletics, joint hypermobility, and recent 
illness or injury. Many adolescents with POTS have hyperextensibility, and some are 
thought to have “benign joint hypermobility syndrome”. It is not clear whether the 
elastic soft tissues actually predispose to the development of POTS or if the lax 
tissues simply allow further increases in vasodilatation that make it more likely for 
hyperextensible individuals to report more venous pooling and dizziness when they 
get POTS. 
30 
 

8.6.5.  Overlap with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) 
Many patients diagnosed with CFS also show symptoms of orthostatic intolerance 
and signs of autonomic dysfunction, and several studies in UK patients have shown 
that POTS can also be diagnosed in those with CFS, ranging from 13% (Lewis et al 
2013 – annex 21) to 27% (Hoad et al; 2008 – annex 22). Some studies in the US 
suggest the proportion of CFS patients with POTS is even higher. The level of 
overlap will likely depend on the selection criteria within in each study, and it is 
unclear how generalisable these estimates may be. 
It is currently unclear whether POTS is a separate clinical entity distinct from CFS, or 
whether patients with POTS form a subset of those with CFS with a specific group of 
particularly marked symptoms (Lewis et al 2013).  
As chronic fatigue is a common presenting feature in POTS, CFS may often be 
diagnosed initially (or co-diagnosed) particularly in adolescents.With increasing 
recognition of POTS in subsets of CFS patients, POTS may be a differential 
diagnosis in many who are under evaluation for CFS. According to MacDonald et al 
(2014 – annex 19), it is becoming increasingly clear that, historical y, many patients 
with POTS were given a diagnosis of CFS. 
 
8.6.6.  How common is POTS, and who does it normally affect? 
POTS can affect people of all ages, but the overwhelming majority of patients are 
women (80% to 85%) of child-bearing age (13–50 years). In adolescence, the 
majority of affected individuals report symptoms beginning within a year or two of the 
beginning of puberty, with worsening symptoms until the age of 16.  About 80% of 
female patients report an exacerbation of symptoms around menstruation (Raj; 2013 
– annex 22). In 1999, the prevalence in the Unites States was estimated in adults at 
170 per 100,000 [Low et al 2009 – annex 18]. 
Although POTS is thought to be under-diagnosed, there is a gradually increasing 
awareness of POTS and diagnoses may be increasing. However, there is a lack of 
reliable studies confirming the expected annual incidence of POTS in the UK in 
different age groups. With increasing awareness of POTS, past estimates may 
anyway be unreliable and changing over the time period since HPV vaccines were 
introduced in the UK in 2008. 
8.6.7.  What causes POTS? 
The causes and pathophysiology process of POTS are not well understood, and 
there is no single precipitating factor. Although a decrease in return of blood to the 
heart generally underlies the symptoms of POTS, the causes of this likely involve 
multiple abnormal physiological processes that differ between sufferers. This is why 
POTS is classed as a syndrome, rather than a specific disease. 
31 
 

Patients frequently report that their symptoms began after acute stressors such as 
pregnancy, major surgery, or a presumed viral illness, but in others cases, symptoms 
develop more insidiously. (Raj; 2013). A large number of patients initially become 
symptomatic following a significant febrile illness, often mononucleosis or influenza 
(Kizilbash et al).  
It is generally thought that the underlying process in POTS is a dysfunction in the 
autonomic nervous system. In POTS, it is thought autonomic reflexes can be 
excessive or the nerves not functioning properly, leading to the symptoms of POTS. 
This can vary between patients. Other illnesses can be associated with autonomic 
dysfunction, so symptoms are not always specific to POTS. In some cases POTS 
may also be caused by low blood volume. 
It has been speculated that small fibre neuropathy may be a factor in some cases of 
POTS (see section 8 below). 
8.6.8.  Can POTS be treated? 
Many sufferers experience full recovery over time with or without treatment, but 
some have persistent symptoms. 
Treatment for POTS is generally tailored to the individual depending on the 
symptoms they are experiencing and the underlying mechanisms for their illness. 
This can range from measures such as controlling fluid intake and drugs to control 
heart rate, which may help to correct the cardiovascular aspects of their symptoms. 
Physical therapy and exercise may help to manage aspects of fatigue and exercise 
intolerance. Given the impact on quality of life, there may also be behavioural 
treatment, lifestyle changes and drugs to manage the psychological aspects of the 
syndrome. 
8.6.9.  Reports of POTS following HPV vaccines 
Since 2010, case reports of POTS following HPV vaccine have been reported in 
several countries. The first report of which we are aware is a 20 year old girl from the 
United States who developed symptoms of POTS (diagnosed several months later) 
two weeks after her first dose of Gardasil (Blitshteyn 2010 – annex 23). Blitshteyn 
(2013 – annex 24) subsequently reported a further five cases of POTS following 
Gardasil in the US. There is likely to be have been a large number of people 
immunised with Gardasil used in the US to date, and these few case reports need to 
be viewed in that context. 
A large series of POTS reports has now also emerged in Denmark, where it appears 
a group of researchers from the Syncope Center at Frederiksberg Hospital are 
actively seeking cases of POTS in adolescent girls, and questioning them specifically 
on whether their symptom onset occurred following Gardasil vaccination. Brinth et al 
(annexes 25 and 26) have published two papers in the literature that probably 
32 
 

involve the same patients in Denmark. In the latter paper, they have identified 53 
patients from 2011 to 2013 with symptoms similar to POTS after Gardasil, although 
only 28 had a POTS diagnosis. This research recently prompted with a Danish TV 
documentary and significant media interest in the issue in Denmark. 
Denmark is reported to have had very high uptake of its routine Gardasil programme 
since 200912. After the first year, uptake among almost 34,000 eligible girls on a 
national level was 80%, 75% and 62% respectively for the three HPV doses. Both of 
the papers by Brinth et al. present findings from descriptive analyses that only 
included patients referred to the syncope unit with orthostatic intolerance or other 
symptoms consistent with autonomic dysfunction with onset of symptoms within 2 
weeks following administration with Gardasil. There is no control group for either of 
these studies and therefore no conclusions can be drawn as to whether Gardasil is 
causally associated with POTS. These analyses simply provide a description of the 
symptoms in these selected patients but it is unclear whether the symptoms are any 
different to patients that did not receive the vaccine or in patients with symptom 
onset longer than the 2 week period used in this study. Furthermore given that the 
Danish researchers appear to be actively identifying cases of POTS that have 
occurred within a short time after vaccination, and interviewed them “with a special 
focus on symptoms and on the temporal association between vaccination and 
symptom onset
” (a process which in itself can prompt bias in symptom recal ), the 
cases in Denmark need to be interpreted with caution.  
Kinoshita et al (2014 – annex 14) describe four cases of POTS following HPV 
vaccine (brand not stated), who were under evaluation for complex regional pain 
syndrome (CRPS).  
On an international level, it is likely that more case reports in temporal association 
with HPV vaccines will continue to be reported given the recent publications and 
publicity. 
 
8.6.10.  
 
 
 
                                             
pi /S0264410X11016276  
33 
 

 
     
   
 
   
  
  
 
 
8.6.11.  UK reports of POTS 
On 31 May 2015, The Independent on Sunday ran a front page story that focused on 
an illness suffered by a teenager following her HPV vaccination given four years ago 
[note – see section 9 below for wider recent media interest]. It states that she has 
been diagnosed with Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS). This case 
has been reported to the MHRA via the Yellow Card Scheme as a suspected side 
effect to the vaccine. 
In terms of UK case reports, as of 30 June 2015 MHRA has received eleven reports 
of POTS following HPV vaccine (5 following Cervarix and 5 following Gardasil and 
one with no brand stated). [note: six cases were reported following the recent media 
interest]. Two were reported in 2012, two in 2013, one in 2014 and six in 2015, 
although symptom onset may have been before then (five have CFS initially/co-
diagnosed, and two have concurrent encephalitis).  
Onset time was from 1 day to several weeks after the first dose, with symptoms 
starting as a virus-like illness in some cases and some reporting worsening 
symptoms after subsequent doses. The case details are included in annex 28. There 
is no consistent clinical pattern in terms of plausible onset times from vaccination or 
symptoms. 
34 
 

8.6.12.  UK Observed vs expected analyses 
There are no reliable data on the expected background incidence of POTS in those 
eligible for HPV vaccine the UK (or indeed in any country). Given that reliable 
information exists on the natural incidence of CFS in the UK and the estimated 
overlap with cases of CFS, this may be a reasonable starting to point to estimate a 
minimum possible incidence of POTS. 
Data from the UK (the same data that informed MHRA’s O/E analysis of CFS) 
suggest that the background incidence of CFS ranges from 30 to 70 per 100,000 per 
year in females aged 12 to 18 years. This rate is based on data in the 10 years prior 
to 2008. The background incidence of POTS in adolescent girls in the UK may be 
estimated from literature. A study by Lewis et al; 2013 stated that around 10% of 
new CFS cases may have co-existing POTS. An additional study by McDonald et al; 
2015 suggested that between 7-42% of POTS patients also have co-existing CFS. 
Combining these pieces of information, 40% of the CFS incidence may give a 
reasonable minimum estimate of the background incidence of POTS in adolescent 
girls in the UK. 
Around 3 million adolescent girls have been immunised across the UK since 2008. 
Using this data and the estimated POTS incidence as detailed above, a range of 
expected cases of POTS for different onset periods post-vaccination and different 
spontaneous reporting scenarios are presented in the table below: 
 
Table. O/E analysis of UK data 
 
 
Assumed reporting rate 
Expected number of 
1% 1
0% 
25% 
50% 
POTS cases 
Within 1 year post-
4 35 
88 
177 
vaccination 
Within 2 years post-
6 63 
159 
317 
vaccination 
At any time post-
20 19

495 
990 
vaccination 
 
A total of 11 cases have been reported in the UK to date. An excess of observed 
cases compared to the expected number is seen only at the 1% reporting level and 
diagnosis within under 3 years post-vaccination. Since POTS is a relatively novel 
condition and therefore likely to be under-diagnosed and with delays in diagnosis, it 
seems unlikely that these scenarios reflect a true excess of cases. Additionally a 
very conservative incidence rate for POTS has been used in this O/E analysis and it 
35 
 

is likely that the true incidence rate is higher which would increase the expected 
numbers. 
8.6.13.  Observed vs expected analysis based on Danish reports (analysis of last 
Gardasil PSUR) 
In the last PSUR assessment, the MAH conducted an O/E analysis restricted to 
Danish data only as the majority of cases are from Denmark (refer to section 2.2 and 
page 48 onwards of annex 9).  
In the absence of POTS incidence rates from the literature the MAH has followed the 
suggestion by a POTS expert at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota to obtain a 
range of estimates of the annual incidence of POTS in females aged 10-39 years 
old. 
Using annual incidence data for CFS (60-150 per 100,000 females aged 10-39 
years) and assuming 10-25% proportion of CFS cases have POTS and that 10% of 
POTS cases have CFS. 
Using annual incidence data for chronic fatigue in general (250-520 per 10,000 
females aged 10-39 years) and assuming 25%-66% proportion of chronic fatigue 
cases have POTS and 100% of POTS cases have fatigue as a symptom. 
The annual incidence rate of POTS was estimated to be 60-150 per 100,000 females 
under scenario (a) above and 2501-3302 per 100,000 females under scenario (b). 
Other assumptions used in the analysis were: 
75-100% doses distributed (1,351,593 doses) were administered 
Spontaneous reporting rate of POTS post-vaccination 10-25% 
Risk period post-vaccination of 1 month 
Using these assumptions the MAH calculated the lowest potential expected number 
of POTS cases within 1 month post-vaccination and the highest potential expected 
number within 1 month as follows: 
36 
 


 
The MAH concludes that the observed counts of POTS are within the expected 
range of counts for a 4-week period after vaccination. The Rapporteur, however, 
concludes that due to the observed cases exceeding the lowest expected estimate a 
causal association cannot be ruled out. 
The MAH O/E analysis is however not particularly informative due to the large range 
of expected cases (5-929). Additionally some of the assumptions made are 
questionable, specifically: 
  The exposure data should be expressed as the number of vaccinees and not 
the number of doses. A conservative approach would be to assume that al  
girls received 3 doses of vaccine and therefore the total exposure would be 
450,531 vaccinees. The impact of this would have been to overestimate the 
expected number of cases. 
  The highest expected estimate assumes that 100% of doses distributed have 
been administered. This is highly unlikely and the 75% assumption used in 
the lowest estimate is much more plausible assumption. 
  A risk period for developing POTS of 4 weeks post-vaccination was chosen 
with no rationale given. Time to onset for all reports received globally was 1-
715 days post-vaccination so to restrict the analysis to 4 weeks seems 
inappropriate. Additionally only 16/28 of the Danish cases met this 4 week 
criteria thus excluding nearly half of the cases from the analysis. 
  Under-reporting scenarios for spontaneous reports include 10-25% reporting. 
Given the current interest in POTS following HPV vaccination in Denmark and 
the active identification of cases it seems likely that the reporting rate is higher 
than 25%. 
37 
 

A revised O/E analysis addressing some of the issues above would give an expected 
number of cases of POTS under different scenarios as follows: 
Table. Revised O/E analysis of Danish data (1) 
 Re
porting rate 
Expected number of 
25% 5
0% 
75% 
POTS cases 
Within 1 year post-
26 53
 79
 
vaccination 
Within 2 years post-
30 60
 90
 
vaccination 
At any time post-
171 342
 
512 
vaccination 
O/E assumptions: all vaccines given 3 doses, 75% doses distributed are administered, scenario (a) 
above for incidence rate of POTS – chosen as this is the more conservative estimate. 
 
The time to onset of all cases globally was within 2 years so following this risk period 
post-vaccination the observed number of POTS cases in Denmark of 28 (in the study 
by Brinth et al) are well within the expected rate for all reporting scenarios. Even 
within the more restrictive risk period of within 1 year post-vaccination the observed 
number of cases is very similar to or less than expected. 
A further more conservative O/E analysis of the Danish data is shown below using 
the same POTS incidence rate as calculated for the UK O/E analysis above. This 
rate assumes that 10% of patients with CFS also have POTS and that 40% of POTS 
patients also have CFS. 
 
Table. Revised O/E analysis using Danish data (2) 
 Re
porting rate 
Expected number of 
25% 5
0% 
75% 
POTS cases 
Within 1 year post-
7 13
 
20 
vaccination 
Within 2 years post-
10 20
 30
 
vaccination 
At any time post-
43 8

128 
vaccination 
 
38 
 

Using this more conservative estimate of POTS incidence inevitably gives a lower 
expected numbers of cases. In this scenario an excess of observed is seen for the 1 
year post-vaccination risk period but the total number of Danish cases (n=28) will 
also reduce under this assumption. An excess is also seen for the 25-50% reporting 
scenarios. However, with higher awareness and active identification of cases in 
Denmark by Brinth et al it is likely that the reporting rate could be high and even 
exceed 50%. 
In conclusion the O/E analysis using Danish data only provides evidence of an 
excess of observed cases compared to expected when a restricted risk period and a 
low reporting rate are used. These scenarios are not considered to be the most 
plausible. 
8.7.  Small Fibre Neuropathy 
POTS, CRPS and fibromyalgia can have a variety of overlapping symptoms, that 
may relate to some dysfunction of the autonomic nervous system in some patients. 
However, a recent publication by Manuel Martínez-Lavín13 (annex 27 - referred to in 
the headline article in The Independent on Sunday) has suggested that small fibre 
neuropathy is a common underlying mechanism in these three disorders. 
Furthermore, as these conditions have been reported in temporal association with 
HPV vaccine, Martínez-Lavín has also suggested that HPV-induced small fibre 
neuropathy as a common mechanism through which it may cause these conditions, 
and has coined the phrase ‘HPV syndrome’.  
The author goes on to suggest that aluminium in HPV vaccines is a possible cause 
of this. Finally, Martínez-Lavín questions the benefits of HPV vaccine, arguing that 
most HPV infections will be cleared by cell-mediated immune responses within 3 
years of infection. 
The article by Martínez-Lavín is purely speculative, and selective in the articles it 
uses in support of the theory. Aluminium has been used in numerous vaccines for 
decades, and no other vaccines have been associated with POTS, fibromyalgia or 
CRPS (in the context of a chronic condition as opposed to possible needle stick 
trauma) to date. The author fails to acknowledge this, and fails to offer the high 
natural prevalence of these conditions in adolescent females as a plausible 
alternative explanation for the emerging case reports. The author offers an 
association between aluminium in vaccines and other autoimmune disorders in 
support of the theory, but also fails to state that these too have been discredited14. 
As with any postulated adverse effects of the vaccines, small fibre neuropathy as a 
possible adverse effect of HPV vaccine should be taken seriously and kept under 
                                             
13 http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10067-015-2969-z?no-access=true  
14 http://www.who.int/vaccine_safety/committee/topics/aluminium/statement_112002/en/  
39 
 

review. However, Manuel Martínez-Lavín provides no new data in support of the 
theory and this article should be treated with caution.  
In the last PSUR for Gardasil and based a speculated aetiology for POTS and CRPS 
of small fibre neuropathy, the Rapporteur asked the MAH to discuss the possible 
biological plausibility of a common pathophysiology for vaccine-induced POTS and 
CRPS (pages 79-81 of annex 9). The MAH argues that there is little evidence for 
this, that POTS and CRPS are heterogeneous with likely multi-factorial 
pathophysiology and the theory of small fibre neuropathy as a cause of vaccine-
induced POTS and CRPS remains speculative.  
 
9.  HPV VACCINE SAFETY REVIEWS BY THE WORLD HEALTH 
ORGANISATION AND US HEALTH AUTHORITIES 
Outside of the EU, other health authorities are closely evaluating the safety of HPV 
as part of their own routine pharmacovigilance and risk evaluation activities.  
In the United States, the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has 
continually evaluated the safety of HPV vaccine (mainly Gardasil used in US). In 
2011, CDC conducted a large study following more than 600,000 doses of HPV 
vaccine. Adverse events in the HPV vaccinated population were compared to 
another appropriate population (such as adolescents vaccinated with vaccines other 
than HPV) and the conditions studied included Guillain–Barré syndrome (GBS), 
stroke, venous thromboembolism (VTE), appendicitis, seizures, syncope (fainting), 
and allergic reactions.  None of these adverse events were found to be any more 
common after HPV vaccination than among their comparison groups. CDC’s 
analysis of ADR data continues to show no new or unusual patterns of adverse 
events to suggest a HPV vaccine safety concern15. 
The World Health Organization’s Global Advisory Committee on Vaccine Safety 
(GACVS) has also reviewed the safety of HPV vaccine on several occasions16. 
GACVS’s most recent advice is that multiple studies have demonstrated no increase 
in risk of autoimmune diseases, among girls who have received HPV vaccine 
compared to those who have not, and concluded that it remains reassured by the 
safety profile of HPV vaccine. GACVS issued a statement in March 2014 supporting 
the continued use of the vaccine (annex 28). 
 
                                             
15 http://www.cdc.gov/vaccinesafety/Vaccines/HPV/hpv_faqs.html 
16 http://www.who.int/vaccine_safety/committee/topics/hpv/en/ 
40 
 

10.  CONCLUSION 
Reports of suspected side effects following HPV vaccines have remained under 
close and continual review by the MHRA since the national immunisation programme 
began in 2008. This not only includes UK reports via the Yellow Card Scheme, but 
also the international experience with HPV vaccines. MHRA works very closely with 
its European counterparts in reviewing safety. 
The overall profile and pattern of reporting of suspected side effects to HPV vaccines 
via the Yellow Card Scheme is not unusual. Reported events are not necessarily 
causally-associated with the vaccine, and the pattern is anyway broadly what would 
be expected of any vaccine given to teenagers and adults. Although Yellow Card 
reporting rates do not equate directly to the frequency of side effects actually 
occurring, and cannot be used to compare the relative safety of different vaccines, 
the reporting rate is still within the expected, known frequency of common side 
effects based on experience in clinical trials. 
The fact that the absolute number of Yellow Card reports for HPV vaccines and the 
reporting rate is greater than other routinely-used vaccines over the same time 
period is not a cause for concern. This does not necessarily mean that more side 
effects are occurring and can most likely be explained partly by differential local 
practices in the way suspected side effects following prior doses are collected and 
reported when vaccinees present for subsequent doses.  
It remains the case that no serious new side effects to HPV vaccines have been 
confirmed based on reports to the Yellow Card Scheme to date. Around 3 million 
eligible girls have received HPV vaccine so far, and reports of serious suspected 
side effects remain consistent with chance. Such reports will remain under continual 
review. 
In relation to Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS), available 
published data suggest that a proportion those diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue 
Syndrome (CFS) also have features/diagnoses of POTS. It is therefore reasonable 
to assume that the minimum expected background annual incidence of POTS in 
those eligible for vaccination is around 40% of the known incidence of CFS. Although 
as POTS can occur independently of CFS, the expected background frequency 
could be significantly greater.  
Given the number of girls vaccinated to date in the UK, and the lack of a consistent 
clinical pattern in terms of symptoms or plausible onset times from vaccination , UK 
reports of POTS following vaccination to date are consistent with a chance 
association. Such reports will remain under close review, taking account of the 
experience from other countries. 
The HPV vaccine programme is expected to have significant future benefits 
preventing hundreds of deaths every year from cervical cancer, as well as reducing 
41 
 







genital warts and other cancers also related to HPV infection. The early signs are 
very encouraging, with evidence from Public Health England that the UK HPV 
immunisation programme is already preventing high risk HPV infections. 
Based on the data currently available, the known risks of HPV vaccines are 
adequately described in the Summaries of Product Characteristics, and these 
known, possible risks are far outweighed by the benefits in reducing mortality and 
morbidity from HPV-related infections. 
 
11.  ADVICE SOUGHT 
The Commission is asked if it agrees with the conclusions above 
12.  Annexes 
 
Annex 1: Gardasil Summary of Product Characteristics 
Annex 1.pdf
 
Annex 2: Cervarix Summary of Product Characteristics 
Annex 2.pdf
 
Annex 3: Cervarix HPV vaccine – end of routine programme 
safety review – Redacted under section 40 (personal 
information) and section 43 (commercial interest) 
 
Annex 4: Cervarix Product Analysis Print (all cases post 
31/07/2012) 
Annex 4.pdf
 
Annex 5: HPV brand unspecified Drug Analysis Print (vaccine 
administration before September 2012) 
Annex 5.pdf
 
Annex 6: Cervarix PRAC Rapporteur PSUR preliminary 
 
assessment report – withheld under section 27 (international 
relations) 
Annex 7: Gardasil Product Analysis Print 
Annex 7.pdf
 
42 
 










Annex 8: HPV brand unspecified Drug Analysis Print (vaccine 
administration after September 2012) 
Annex 8.pdf
 
Annex 9: Gardasil PRAC Rapporteur PSUR preliminary 
 
assessment report – withheld under section 27 (international 
relations) 
Annex 10: Arnheim-Dahlstrom, Pasternak B, Svanstrom H, 
Sparen P and Hviid A.  Autoimmune, neurological, and venous 
thromboembolic adverse events after immunisation of 
Annex 10.pdf
adolescent girls with quadrivalent human papillomavirus 
 
vaccine in Denmark and Sweden: cohort study BMJ (347): 
2013 
Annex 11: Bryan P et al, Bivalent human papillomavirus 
vaccine and the risk of fatigue syndromes in girls in the UK: 
Vaccine (2013 Oct 9;31(43):4961-7) 
Annex 11.pdf
 
Annex 12: Gee J, et al, Monitoring the safety of quadrivalent 
human papillomavirus vaccine: Findings from the Vaccine 
Safety Datalink: Vaccine (2011 8279-8284) 
Annex 12.pdf
 
Annex 13: Little D T, Rodrick H, Ward G, Premature ovarian 
failure 3 years after menarche in a 16-year-old girl following 
human papillomavirus vaccination: BMJ Case Reports 2012 
Annex 13.pdf
 
Annex 14: Kinoshita T, et al Peripheral Sympathetic Nerve 
Dysfunction in Adolescent Japanese Girls Following 
Immunization with the Human Papillomavirus Vaccine. Intern 
Annex 14.pdf
Med 53: 2185-2200, 2014 
 
Annex 15: Jarjour I T, Postural Tachycardia Syndrome in 
Children and Adolescents. Semin PediatrNeurol20:18-26 C 
2013 
Annex 15.pdf
 
Annex 16: Kizilbash S J et al, Adolescent Fatigue, POTS, and 
Recovery: A Guide for Clinicians. Curr Probl Pediatr Adolesc 
Health Care 2014;44:108-133 
Annex 16.pdf
 
Annex 17: Sheldon et al, 2015 Heart Rhythm Society Expert 
Consensus Statement on the Diagnosis and Treatment of 
Postural Tachycardia Syndrome, Inappropriate Sinus 
Annex 17.pdf
Tachycardia, and Vasovagal Syncope. Heart Rhythm, Vol 12, 
 
No 6, June 2015 
43 
 











Annex 18:Low P et al, Postural Tachycardia Syndrome 
(POTS) J Cardiovasc Electrophysiol. 2009 March ; 20(3): 352–
358 
Annex 18.pdf
 
Annex 19: McDonald C, Koshi S, Busner L, et al. Postural 
tachycardia syndrome is associated withsignificant symptoms 
and functional impairment predominantly affecting young 
Annex 19.pdf
women: a UK perspective. BMJ Open 2014;4:e004127. 
 
Annex 20: Hoad A et al, Postural orthostatic tachycardia 
syndrome is an under-recognized condition in chronic fatigue 
syndrome. Q J Med 2008; 101:961–965 
Annex 20.pdf
 
Annex 21: Lewis I et al, Clinical characteristics of a novel 
subgroup of chronic fatigue syndrome patients with postural 
orthostatic tachycardia syndrome. Intern Med 
Annex 21.pdf
 
2013; 273: 501–510. 
Annex 22: Raj S R, Postural Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS) 
Circulation. 2013;127:2336-2342 
Annex 22.pdf
 
Annex 23: S. Blitshteyn, Postural tachycardia syndrome after 
vaccination with Gardasil. European Journal of Neurology 
2010 doi:10.1111/j.1468-1331 
Annex 23.pdf
 
Annex 24: S. Blitshteyn, Postural tachycardia syndrome 
following human papillomavirus vaccination. European Journal 
of Neurology 2010 doi:10.1111/ene.12272 
Annex 24.pdf
 
Annex 25: Brinth L et al, Orthostatic intolerance and postural 
tachycardia syndrome as suspected adverse effects of 
vaccination against human papillomavirus: Vaccine 2015 
Annex 25.pdf
10.1016 
 
Annex 26: Brint L et al, Suspected side effects to the 
quadrivalent human papilloma vaccine. Dan Med 
2015;62(4):A5064 
Annex 26.pdf
 
Annex 27: Martinez-Lavin M, Hypothesis: Human 
papillomavirus vaccination syndrome—small fiber neuropathy 
and dysautonomia could be its underlying pathogenesis. 
Annex 27.pdf
Clinical Rheumatology 2015 DOI 10.1007/s10067-015-2969-z 
 
44 
 


Annex 28: Line listing- UK spontaneous suspected ADR 
reports in association with HPV vaccine and Postural 
Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS) – redacted under 
section 40 (personal information) 
 
 
 
 
 
45