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Date for legal action over epilepsy medication

24 July, 2006

The High Court has set a date for the action brought against a drug manufacturer by parents who claim an anti-epileptic drug prescribed to pregnant mothers caused

disabilities in their children.

Group action by solicitors, Irwin Mitchell, is being brought against Sanofi-Synthelabo which markets sodium valporate as Epilim.

A trial date has been set for October 2008. The cut-off date for families to register as claimants for compensation has been set for March next year, but claims must be registered with Irwin Mitchell by 1 October 2006 to allow proper investigation of each case.

Families from all over the UK claim that the drug caused problems including ADHD, facial abnormalities, dyslexia, dyspraxia, delayed speech and motor development, and learning and social difficulties.

Deborah Mann believes her daughters were injured before birth when she took the prescription drug to control epileptic seizures. "While we do everything we can to ensure the girls have the care and equipment they need, it is expensive and we feel strongly that the company whose products caused these problems should face its responsibilities and meet the extra costs we face."

The campaign is being co-ordinated by OACS (Organisation for Anti-Convulsant Syndrome), formed by Janet Williams. She said,"We want to hear from any family where the mother took this anti-epileptic drug in pregnancy and where a child has had foetal anti-convulsant syndrome diagnosed or suffers from a range of neural, behavioural and physical disorders.

"We are not saying the drug doesn't work to control seizures, because it does, but we are saying that one side-effect is foetal damage during pregnancy and we believe Sanofi should foot the bill for the cost of care that children damaged by the drug require."

In earlier comments Sanofi-Synthelabo said, "Anti-epileptic drugs are crucial to the health of those prescribed them and have passed stringent medical tests. Sanofi-Synthelabo Ltd has every sympathy for people born with congenital abnormality, and would advise women with epilepsy who may become pregnant to speak to their doctor."