29 October 2014
Victory for campaigners in "forgotten thalidomide" battle
A MOTHER is celebrating one of the first victories in her campaign to unearth the truth behind “the forgotten Thalidomide”.
At a debate in the House of Commons last week, the parliamentary under-secretary of state for health, George Freeman, announced that while there would be no public inquiry into the use of the drug Primdos, the government would set up an independent panel of medical experts to look into the drug, including representatives from the campaign group.
This assurance is a victory for campaigners who feel that, by having fully independent medical experts examine the incidence of birth defects in children of women were given the drug as a hormonal pregnancy test, it will pave the way for a full public inquiry into the issue.
The panel will also examine records unearthed in Kew national archives that relate to doctors’ fears over their liability in prescribing the drug.
Chris Gooch, of Carnarvon Avenue, Enfield, who believes her daughter Emma had birth defects due to the drug, told the Advertiser: “Things are looking good. We want to know the make-up of that panel and we will monitor that. There will be independent medical experts and they have agreed that we can have an input.
“They can also look at the evidence that we have collected.”
Her constituency MP, Nick de Bois, chairs the all-party group on hormone pregnancy testing.
In the debate, he told the Commons: “Primodos contained a higher concentration of hormones than the morning-after pill but was given to pregnant women.
“Questions urgently need to be asked; it seems like nothing has been learned from the Thalidomide tragedy.
“Hopefully politicians will now come together and something can be done.”
He added: “On June 23, 1967, the Medical Research Council said ‘it looks like it could be another Thalidomide story’. “Manufacturer Schering’s own specialist advice in the UK raised doubts.”
The drug company stopped recommending that it be used to test for pregnancy in 1970 but still continued to manufacture it, marketing it as treating amenorrhoea – a condition where menstruation has stopped in women.
However, it wasn’t taken off shelves until 1977.
In a statement, Bayer, the company who now own Schering said: “Since the discontinuation of the legal action in 1982, no new scientific knowledge has been produced which would call into question the validity of the previous assessment of there being no link between the use of Primodos and the occurrence of such congenital abnormalities.
“We are aware of the decision for a review by an independent panel and we await further information on the scope and timelines for this review going forward.”
18 June 2014
Birth Defects from Primodos
MP takes fight against pregnancy drug to parliament
An MP from Bolton will lead the fight for a public inquiry into a pregnancy drug that hundreds of people say ruined their lives.
Bolton South East MP Yasmin Qureshi formed an all-party parliamentary group to “bring justice” for victims, today she will hand in a petition to Downing Street.
The hormone drug Primodos was given to women in the UK by GPs in the 1960s and 1970s as a pregnancy test. But campaigners claim it caused deformities and long-term health problems something the drug maker has always denied.
Ms Qureshi will present the petition on the floor of the commons before handing it to number 10 with a number of alleged victims.
Sky News: Primodos Row: Watchdog Took Years To Warn GPs
Bolton News, 30th June 2014
Prime Minister to meet with Bolton MP over pregnancy drug claims
THE Prime Minister will meet with Bolton MP Yasmin Qureshi to discuss her fight for a public enquiry into a pregnancy testing drug which a Bolton mum claims ruined her life.
Ms Quereshi has campaigned for an inquiry into alleged problems caused by the drug Primidos which Nicola Williams, of Little Lever, claims caused her to be born with life-threatening congenital health issues.
After raising the issue twice at Prime Minister’s Questions, the Bolton South East MP has been invited to a one on one meeting with David Cameron at his House of Commons office on July 9.
She will also be meeting with shadow health secretary and MP for Leigh, Andy Burnham, next week to discuss the matter.
Ms Qureshi said: “I have been working hard on this for some time so I am really pleased that the Prime Minister has agreed to a personal meeting with me.
“It is a big step for us in our bid to get a public inquiry. We have had a lot of fob-offs along the way but this just shows that badgering and not giving up can work.”
Miss Williams said she was “delighted” to hear that the Prime Minister would be speaking to Ms Qureshi about the issue.
She added: “It is fantastic news and has made me feel really positive about things — it has been such a long journey and this is a big moment.
“People like David Cameron need to hear the evidence that we have.”
The hormone drug produced by Schering, a German company later taken over by Bayer, was given to women in the UK by GPs in the 1960s and 1970s as a pregnancy test.
Miss Williams claims to have uncovered mounting evidence that the Government was warned about the dangers of pregnancy testing drugs as far back as 1967.
The 42-year-old and her daughter Shareace Williams, aged 21, spent three days finding letters written between clinicians and public documents at the National Archives in Kew, London last summer.
Her claims are disputed by pharmaceutical firm Bayer, which says there is no link between the drug and birth defects. By Liam Thorp, Reporter
17th June 2014, Bolton News
Little Lever mum will take pregnancy drug petition to Downing Street
A MUM who claims a pregnancy drug ruined her life is taking her campaign to Downing Street.
Nichola Williams and Bolton South East MP, Yasmin Qureshi, will hand over a petition containing more than 400 signatures calling for a public inquiry into the pregnancy testing drug.
Miss Williams, from Little Lever, was born with life-threatening congenital health issues, which she says were caused by Primodos prescribed to her mother in the seventies. Ms Qureshi has led the fight for a public inquiry and has formed an all-party parliamentary group to “bring justice” for alleged victims like Miss Williams.
Campaigners claim the drug caused deformities in children and serious long-term health problems for alleged victims — claims which the drugs company has always denied.
Ms Qureshi will present the petition on the floor of the commons today before handing it to number 10 with Miss Williams and 40 other victims tomorrow.
Ms Qureshi said: “This will be a significant moment in our campaign and I am hoping this will bring the suffering of the victims to the attention of the rest of the country.
“The Government needs to investigate what happened 40 years ago and bring some justice to the people whose lives have been affected by Primodos.”
Victims and 24 MPs in the all-party parliamentary group will hold a meeting once the petition has been handed over to discuss the grounds for an inquiry.
Miss Williams, aged 42, claims to have uncovered evidence that the Government was warned about the dangers of pregnancy testing drugs as far back as 1967.
The mum-of three was born with her stomach on the wrong side, seven spleens, a hole in her heart, spinal defects and in 2006 she developed a rare kidney cancer.
She has had to have numerous operations and lives in pain.
Miss Williams said: “It has been a long road to get to this point but I feel like tomorrow will be a positive step for people like myself.
“It feels like something is finally starting to happen after three years of trying to make the Government listen to the victims who have had their lives ruined by Primodos.”
The hormone drug produced by Schering — a German company later taken over by Bayer — was given to women in the UK by GPs in the 1960s and 1970s as a pregnancy test.
Bayer denies that Primodos was responsible for causing any deformities in children. By Charlotte Dobson, Health reporter