Campaigning mothers are demanding a full public inquiry into epilepsy drug sodium valproate after "breakthrough" research found it can cause birth defects when taken during pregnancy.
Many epilepsy sufferers were prescribed Epilim, which contains the substance, by their doctors with no knowledge of the risks.
The link to the drug causing birth defects has been widely disputed but last week a medical journal published research categorically stating that neurodevelopmental disorders are caused when sodium valproate is used by mothers during pregnancy.
Speaking to the Star today the mothers vowed to fight for justice for tens of thousands of children, including their own, affected by long-term physical and cognitive conditions caused by sodium valproate.
The mothers have set up the Independent Fetal Anti-Convulsant Trust (In-Fact) to give support and raise awareness to other families as well as seek corporate responsibility from Epilim manufacturer Sanofi Aventis and the government.
Co-founder and secretary Janet Williams warned that around 48,000 children have been exposed to sodium valproate during a 40-year period from 1973 and are urging others to come forward.
She said: "A public inquiry urgently needs to be launched into why sodium valproate was not investigated sooner and its affects allowed to continue for such a long period of time.
"More families could be at risk unless the government acts to increase awareness to mothers and doctors," she warned.
Some mothers did not find out that taking sodium valproate during pregnancy may have caused their child's health problems until years later.
Emma Murphy only found out after the birth of her fifth child and all five of her children have physical and cognitive disabilities.
"Drug companies are making millions in profit out of drugs that are causing life-long disabilities," she said.
"More needs to be done to tackle this worldwide problem."
The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency is aware of the journal's findings but pointed out that product information clearly states that Epilim should not be prescribed to women "of child-bearing potential."
Ms Murphy has shared some of her experiences in her blog emma4oacs.wordpress.com.
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