by Tom Maling
In June 2017 we detailed the link between birth defects and the medications sodium valproate (Epilim, Valprease, Valpro) and topiramate (Epiramax, Tamate, Topamax) in ‘Epilepsy and Bipolar Disorder medications linked to birth defects’. Since this time we have been keeping a close eye on overseas developments.
On 27 September the Guardian newspaper published an article reporting that the risks associated with taking sodium valproate while pregnant could have been made public 40 years ago. According to the article:
“These warnings could have and should have been given in 1974,” said Catherine Cox from the Fetal Anti-Convulsant Syndrome Association at a public hearing of the European Medicines Agency, which is conducting a risk assessment of the drug. “However, there was a deliberate decision not to publish them.”
Of further concern for young women today, the article referred to a recent survey of 2000 UK women with Epilepsy, with an alarming number (68%) unaware of the risks posed by their medications. The British Parliament has recently heard that up to 20000 UK children may have been effected by drugs such as Epilim since the 1970s, a staggering number. There are calls for a government enquiry in the UK, and the European Medicines Agency has already conducted a public hearing into this issue in 2017.
As we stated earlier in 2017, there are no published court cases in Australia involving medical negligence claims for injuries caused by sodium valproate and topiramate. These drugs are commonly used in Australia to treat symptoms of Epilepsy and Bipolar Disorder. There is no reason why, unfortunately, the international experience has not been replicated in Australia. Just because there are no cases which have been published does not mean there are no people in the Australian community who are entitled to compensation.
We are specialist health lawyers who represent people affected by medical negligence. Families affected may be entitled to compensation to pay for the cost of caring for a child who has been affected by one of these drugs. Compensation can help ease the financial strain on families by funding things such as equipment and care.
Please feel free to contact Tom Maling for more information on how we may be able to help, or refer to the below articles for further information.
- Epilepsy and Bipolar Disorder medications linked to birth defects
- Medical Negligence
- What is medical negligence?
- Medications and medical negligence
- Guardian article
- Up to 20000 children affected in UK