Epilim (sodium valproate)


  Oct 1 2004

   By Lorraine Fisher
A GROUP of parents who claim their children were damaged by a drug dubbed
"the new Thalidomide" are suing the makers.
Mothers allege that the anti-convulsant pill they took for epilepsy while
they were pregnant left their babies with permanent mental and physical
Children have been born with a variety of problems, including disfigured
faces, spina bifida, autism, dyspraxia and dyslexia. Some have limb
deformities like the victims of Thalidomide, which affected thousands of
babies in the 1960s.
Three families have started legal action, suing manufacturers
Sanofi-Synthelabo over its production of sodium valproate - a form of
anti-convulsant. More drugs companies who make different types of
anti-convulsants are expected to be included by the time the case reaches
the courts in about two years.
The action is being brought under the 1987 Consumer Protection Act, which
allows the child, rather than the mother, to bring a claim.
David Body, of the group's solicitors Irwin Mitchell, said: "To the baby
the drug is not therapeutic. It is damaging." Mr Body said medical research
had left him in no doubt that anti-convulsants had caused the problems.
Yesterday Sanofi-Synthelabo said: "All the proceedings relate to congenital
abnormalities attributable to a wide range of possible causes; they are not
specific to exposure to anti-epileptic drugs, including sodium valproate,
during pregnancy."