The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Sodium Valproate and Other Anti-Epileptic Drugs in Pregnancy, were recently due to meet with the Health Minister, Lord O’Shaughnessy, but at the last minute the meeting was postponed until mid-January. However, the Group’s Chairman, Norman Lamb MP, and their secretariat was subsequently able to meet briefly with the Minister ahead of the full meeting next month.
We understand that during that discussion, the Minister indicated that the Government has not reached a conclusion on the issue of financial assistance/a care plan for people with Sodium Valproate Syndrome. He did not completely reject the idea, but was not able to make any commitment and suggested that the issue of Sodium Valproate needed to be looked at ‘in the round’ with other recent scandals affecting women such as vaginal mesh implants and Primodos.
In response, we understand that the point was made to the Minister that the health grant has been life-changing to Thalidomide survivors, and that those affected by Sodium Valproate should be entitled to the same support regardless of other groups coming forward. In November 2016 the French parliament voted to create a €10 million nationwide compensation fund to help victims there.
Leading Sodium Valproate Solicitor, David Gazzard, attended last month’s debate in the House of Commons and has subsequently been in communication with Norman Lamb. David says “Sodium Valproate is an issue affecting those children who have been injured by the harmful effects of the drug during pregnancy. In my opinion this is quite different from claims such as those arising out of mesh implants.
“As we now know, the symptoms and effects are both current and ongoing and any help the Government is able to provide to the families via a no fault compensation scheme would in my view be most welcome. In addition to those suffering from epilepsy it is likely that there are a great many more bi-polar and migraine sufferers who have also taken this drug without the benefit of proper advice and counselling and as a result their children are now having to cope with the consequences of FVS. To put it bluntly I think we are only seeing the “tip of the iceberg” and Norman Lamb’s description in the debate of this being a national scandal was very apt.”
David has offered to meet with Norman Lamb and his colleague Baroness Jolly who also has an interest in this matter.