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Gulf War Illnesses

Volume 691: debated on Monday 16 April 2007

asked Her Majesty's Government:

With reference to the paper published by the Porton Down Group on their marmoset study of the health effects of exposure to pyridostigmine bromide, how the statistical analysis and display of its results can be reconciled with the group's discussion of them; and whether they will now make available to Gulf War veterans or their representatives, and place in the Library of the House, the actual data relevant to the amount of time the animals spent in (a) sleep; (b) rapid eye movement sleep; and (c) wakefulness over the 18 months of the study. [HL2994]

As I indicated in my Answer of 5 March (Official Report, col. WA 8), the outputs of the Ministry of Defence's vaccines interactions research programme have been reported in detail in open literature publications. The interpretation of the study results was the subject of oversight from an independent panel of experts and veterans representatives, and the findings have been independently reviewed as part of the peer-reviewed publication process.

Data from the marmoset study relating to sleep were the subject of independent academic statistical analysis and the findings were released in the paper: Multiple Vaccine and Pyridostigmine Interactions Effects on EEG and sleep in the common marmoset published in Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior (2006 Jun; 84(2): 282-93). The Ministry of Defence is committed to openness in issues relating to Gulf veterans' illnesses and, while release of raw data alone would not be comprehensible without support from the research team, a previous offer that the team could present the findings of the marmoset study to the Royal British Legion's Gulf War Group including an explanation of the nature and interpretation of the underlying data remains open.