Campaigning Mums To Meet Shadow Health Minister Over “New Thalidomide” Drug Scandal
(for immediate release)
Two mums who claim their children have been “damaged” by them taking medication during pregnancy, are stepping up their campaign for a public inquiry into the drug dubbed the “new Thalidomide”
Janet Williams and Emma Murphy – who both took sodium valproate (Epilim) – are meeting Labour’s shadow health minister, Luciana Berger, tomorrow (Wednesday, March 19), in a bid to win backing from the Labour Health team.
Between them the pair have seven children aged between 24 and four, all diagnosed “Fetal Anticonvulsant Syndrome”, which has led to a range of mental and physical disabilities.
In November 2012, they launched IN-FACT (Independent Fetal Anti Convulsant Trust), to offer support to other parents of children diagnosed with the condition.
Since Epilim was licensed in the UK in 1973, by French pharmaceutical company Sanofi, more than 20,000 children have been affected by their mothers taking it, either prior to, or during the early stages of, pregnancy.
It is prescribed for a range of conditions, including depression, bi-polar disorder and epilepsy.
Janet said: “Epilim is a bigger scandal than Thalidomide. It is being dubbed the ‘new Thalidomide’, yet there is very little awareness of it.
“Over the last 15 months, Emma and I have lobbied MPs, MEPs and health professionals in a bid to get a public enquiry into Epilim.
“The scandal is that despite 500 children a year in the UK being diagnosed with Fetal Anticonvulsant Syndrome, it is still being prescribed.”
Nursery nurse Emma said: “Tomorrow we are meeting with Luciana Berger and we are hoping that she and her health team will take up our cause and back a call for an enquiry into Epilim.
“We also want Sanofi to face their responsibilities and offer financial support to those who have been left permanently damaged by their drug.”
In addition, the mothers, who both live in the North West, have launched a “guerrilla campaign” aimed directly at Sanofi. They are wanting a summit with company bosses, which has so far been declined.
They recently handed out hard-hitting leaflets in Guilford, where Sanofi has its UK headquarters. Last week, they “gate crashed” a national pharmaceutical awards ceremony in London, where they handed out the same leaflets – in gold envelopes – to delegates.
Janet added: “The leaflets have had the desired affect and we have been contacted by Sanofi’s legal team. However, we will not rest until we get the meeting we are demanding.”
For further information, please contact:
Janet Williams, co-founder, INFACT & FACSA, on 07866 377278
Emma Murphy, co-founder, INFACT & FACSA, on 07454 769605
David Simister, Different PR, on 07870 550 760