New documentary claims Schering was aware of pregnancy pill risks

20 March 2017

A TV documentary to be aired tomorrow claims that makers of a controversial hormone pregnancy test linked to birth deformities were well aware of potential risks from an early stage.

According to The Sky News investigation, German firm Schering, now Bayer, failed to act upon information about Primodos.

Investigators claimed to have uncovered evidence that reinforced earlier studies suggesting that Primodos pills used in the 60s and 70s affected unborn babies.

It added to the claims by mothers in onlene newspaper The Record over the past three years.

Babies were born without limbs, some were deformed, women miscarried, and myriad other birth defects from cerebral palsy to asthma were seen in babies born to mothers who had taken the pills.  

Nancy Kelly, whose son Russell was born without his left hand and part of his arm missing praised The Record for giving victims a platform to fight back. She said, ''The Record championed the case in the 70s and 80s and I'm glad that to this day, they are still giving victims a platform to fight back.''

Their stories were similar to those in The Sky probe, such as campaigner Robin Hayes whose son died due to a heart defect, aged 10, after his wife took Primodos while pregnant.

It was now known that one dose of Primodos contained super-strength hormones that, later, came to be used in the morning-after pill.

They were essentially a powerful oral contraceptive, containing 10mg of norethisterone and 0.2mg of ethinylestradiol.

If a woman was pregnant, these large doses of progesterone would, it was thought, simply be absorbed into the body and in case she wasn't they would trigger menstruation.

However, the concentration was extremely high in today's terms, with one dose of Primodos equating  to 13 morning-after pills or 40 oral contraceptive pills.

Primodos continued to be on the market till 1978, and had been taken by1.5 million ­pregnant UK women by then.

UK health minister Lord O'Shaughnessy said, ''I welcome this investigation it's vital we take concerns such as these ­seriously. That's why we've asked the Medicine and Healthcare products ­Regulatory Agency to conduct a thorough scientific review of the evidence.''

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