Press Release : Answers Demanded on the New Thalidomide

Glenys Willmott MEP Press Release 7 2 14

Answers demanded on “the new Thalidomide.”


 A Labour MEP has taken up the cause of families affected by a drug – originally prescribed for epilepsy – which some are calling “The new Thalidomide.”

Alerted to the issue by Notts mum Catherine Cox, East Midlands Euro MP Glenis Willmott recently met her and other national campaigners, and is demanding answers from the Government and from the drugs company Sanofi.

The drug Sodium Valproate (Epilim) appeared on the market in the late 1970’s,  and is prescribed for women during pregnancy.     However, since its introduction, a large number of women taking the drug have given birth to children with numerous difficulties and abnormalities, known as Fetal Anti-Convulsant Syndromes.

Catherine Cox, who lives in Keyworth,  whose son Matthew is one of the children affected, has been involved in the campaign since 2004.

She explained:“Epilim is now prescribed for epilepsy, depression, bi-polar disorder and many women are not warned of the impact it could have on their unborn child.

“We’ve raised a whole host of questions regarding Epilem with the Department of Health and with the drugs company – we’ve received nothing but stonewalling…   As mothers, we want answers.

Glenis Willmott said:  “I’ve been appalled to hear of the lack of response which Catherine and other parents (from IN-FACT and FACSA, organisations dealing with Fetal Anti-Convulsant Syndromes) have had from government and from the company involved, Sanofi.    The unwillingness to respond to the medical and scientific evidence is totally unacceptable.

“I have written to the Health Secretary and to Sanofi, asking for them to respond to the points raised by the campaigners, and have also arranged for Catherine and her colleagues to meet Labour’s Shadow Health Minister Luciana Berger.

“I’ve been so impressed by the determination of these women campaigners.   We owe it to them to have a full enquiry.   With European Epilepsy Day on February 14th, it’s time for some action.”



1.    To interview Catherine or Glenis, or for further information contact Paddy Casswell on 07973 736003

2.    Additional information on FACS is attached

3.    For more details on the campaign by IN-FACT and FACSA, contact Janet Williams on 07866 377278 or Emma Murphy on 07454 769605

Twitter : Emma4facs

Facebook : FACSA




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