‘I want answers over drug’ – health problems woman

First published in News

A MUM born with life-threatening congenital health problems is meeting MPs in bid to get answers about a pregnancy testing drug that she believes caused her disabilities.

Nicola Williams was born with severe abnormalities which, she claims, are related to her mother taking Primodos, a hormone drug prescribed to pregnant women, in 1970.

Her claims are strongly disputed by pharmaceutical company Bayer, however, which says there is no link between the drug and birth defects.

On Tuesday, Ms Williams will be taking part in a meeting organised by Bolton South East MP Yasmin Qureshi who, she hopes, will table a debate in parliament about the drug.

Primodos, which is 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, but it was banned in the UK in 1978.

The Association of Children Damaged by Hormone Pregnancy Tests is supporting about 50 people who claim they suffered disfiguration, missing limbs and other health problems after their mothers were given the drug.

In 1982, campaigners attempted to take the drug company to court, but the case was withdrawn.

Ms Williams, from Little Lever, says her life has been ruined and now she wants “the truth”.

The 41-year-old was born with multiple congenital abnormalities, including spinal problems, a hole in her heart and major stomach abnormalities.

Starting at just 14 days old, she has had nine major operations and countless smaller procedures and is on constant pain relief medication.

She has had two ovarian cysts, a hysterectomy, a series of tumours on her spine, and, five years ago, she was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer normally only seen in people with chromosomal abnormalities.

She also has seven spleens — a healthy person only has one. The mum of three missed much of her schooling and has been unable to work because of her health.

She is convinced her problems were caused when her mother, Maria Farrell, now aged 63, was prescribed the drug Primodos in 1970 by her GP, who was based in Little Lever Health Centre in Mytham Road.

She said: “I am tired of fighting.”

Ms Qureshi said the meeting would be the first step in an effort to get more information about the drug, and its alleged problems, from the Government.

A Bayer spokesman said: “Bayer denies that Primodos was responsible for causing any deformities in children.

“UK litigation, in respect of Primodos, against Schering (which is now owned by Bayer), ended in 1982 when the claimants’ legal team, with the approval of the court, decided to discontinue the litigation on the grounds that there was no realistic possibility of showing that Primodos caused the congenital malformations alleged.

“Bayer is very sympathetic to people who struggle day-to-day with physical difficulties. However, Bayer maintains that Primodos was not responsible for causing any congenital malformations.”

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