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Hair-um Scarum

Shares in Threadbone Pharmaceuticals fell sharply today when it was revealed that serious side-effects were being experienced by patients who had been given at least 8 of the 10 recommended doses of its recently-approved orally-administered anti-CONTRIK-69 vaccine.

Courtney Haery-Legge is currently the most prominent of the early vaccine trialists who are reporting serious side effects. She is seeking a doctor's appointment, an explanation and £5 a week for razor blades.

Several patients involved in early field trials have now come forward to report the same disturbing symptoms - a sudden persistent cough, high temperatures, lassitude and breathing difficulties often accompanied by a loss of taste and/or smell. But by far the most disturbing side-effect is the onset of sudden and unexplained hair growth, frequently in wholly unwanted places. Early adopter Courtney Haery-Legge says she was profoundly disturbed on waking this morning to discover that she had been struck overnight by an outbreak of what looked like an all-over chest wig. No stranger to the occasional use of a merkin, the socially-outgoing and usually well-depilated Ms Haery-Legge knows a bushy growth spurt when she sees one. She immediately reported this disturbing development to her GP [Dr Neva Avay-Labble] and requested an urgent appointment. [She has since learned that a telephone appointment might become available in 6 weeks time. Until then she has been advised to shave every two days and to ride her bike regularly in order to deal with "those hard to reach places".]

No-one expressed more surprise at these recent developments than Sir Con Mann, CEO of Snake-oil Ltd, the rival giant pharma company from whose Hair Restorer Tonic some say the new Threadbone vaccine is largely derived. "Sadly, we've never seen result like this with our Tonic. If only we had, perhaps our share price would have rocketed too and perhaps the disappointed hate mail would have been less voluminous. We are certainly keen to find out why this is suddenly working - perhaps boiling it to 200C is the secret. I've bought a gas ring and asked my boffins to give it a go".

Threadbone Pharmaceuticals Ltd's Head of Virus Research and Development Dr Mue Tayshon denies that she has experimented on herself "more often than she should".

In the meantime, Threadbone Pharmaceutical scientists were quick to dismiss any so-called side effects as both minor and, very likely, coincidental. Head of Virus Research and Development Dr Mue Tayshon says it is almost impossible to believe that the minor modification her laboratory has made to the Snake-oil formula could have had such a powerful effect. "We only used it because we presumed it was a neutral placebo and a decent way to fill up an otherwise almost completely empty vial." "It will be deeply ironic and probably quite fitting if the end of CONTRIK-69 is finally signalled by the perpetuation of a chemical con trick of our own. Perhaps we should call the vaccine CONTRIK-70!" "Like God, Big Pharma works in mysterious - but, thankfully, generally lucrative - ways!", she added.

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