Narcolepsy is a neurological disorder that can cause victims to fall asleep suddenly and unexpectedly. Recent research suggests that those who received a certain H1N1 flu vaccine may be more likely to suffer from narcolepsy.

Contact a Vaccine Injury Lawyer Today

The nationwide law firm of Bernstein Liebhard LLP is offering free, no-obligation legal reviews to individuals who may have developed narcolepsy related to vaccines. To learn if you might qualify for compensation, contact our vaccine injury lawyers by calling (888) 994-5118.

What is Narcolepsy?

Narcolepsy affects the brain’s ability to control sleep-wake cycles. The disorder occurs in males and females at an equal rate. Between 150,000 and 200,000 people in the United States are believed to suffer from narcolepsy. However, because the condition is often misdiagnosed, many experts believe that the true number is much higher.

Symptoms of Narcolepsy

Symptoms of narcolepsy usually begin in childhood or adolescence.  They may include:

  • Excessive Daytime Sleepiness or EDS: All individuals with narcolepsy experience persistent sleepiness, regardless of how much sleep they get during the night. The feeling of excessive and overwhelming sleepiness – a sleep attack — usually comes on quickly. Individuals with narcolepsy may experience normal levels of alertness in the periods between attacks.
  • Cataplexy: The sudden loss of muscle tone while awake.  In about 10% of cases, cataplexy is the first narcolepsy symptom to appear. The most severe attacks of cataplexy result in a total body collapse during which individuals are unable to move, speak, or keep their eyes ope
  • Sleep paralysis:  The temporary inability to move or speak while falling asleep or waking up.
  • Hallucinations: Very vivid and sometimes frightening images may accompany sleep paralysis.
  • Fragmented Sleep and Insomnia
  • Automatic behaviors: People with narcolepsy may experience very brief periods – lasting mere seconds – of temporary sleep. During these periods, they may automatically engage in whatever activity – walking, eating, etc. – they were doing without conscious awareness.

Excessive daytime sleepiness, cataplexy, sleep paralysis, and hallucinations are the most common narcolepsy symptoms. Only about 10% to 25% of narcolepsy sufferers will experience other symptoms.

While there is no cure for narcolepsy, the symptoms can be treated with drugs and lifestyle changes.

Narcolepsy and Vaccines

Pandemrix, monovalent a flu vaccine that was used in several European countries during the 2009 H1N1 (swine) influenza pandemic, has been linked to an increased risk of narcolepsy.

Pandemrix contained an oil-in-water emulsion adjuvant called ASO3 to increase the body’s immune response to the vaccine.

Pandemrix was not licensed for use in the United States. However, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved the first adjuvant vaccine for H5N1 avian influenza. The H5N1 flu vaccine will not be made available to the public unless there is a “worst case scenario” outbreak of avian flu.

Compensation for Vaccine-Related Narcolepsy

The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (NVICP) provides compensation to those who have been harmed by vaccines.  To date, the program has paid more than $3.9 billion in compensation to victims of vaccine-related injuries.

If you were diagnosed with narcolepsy following a flu vaccine or other vaccine, please call (888) 994-5118 to discuss your case with a member of our legal team.

  1. NIH (2018) “Narcolepsy”
  2. World Health Organization (2011) “Statement on Narcolepsy and Vaccination”
  3. CDC (2017) “Narcolepsy Following Pandemrix Influenza Vaccination in Europe”
Last Modified: July 10, 2018

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