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Primodos One woman’s quest for the truth
Wednesday 28th November 2018 @ 15:20 by Lee Wild
Ashton News

One woman’s fight to find out if a pregnancy test caused her son to be born with severe special needs has gone all the way to the top of government.

Susan Forshaw, 68, from Ashton was given the hormonal pregnancy test Primodos by her doctor 48 years ago. She wasn’t told what the tablets contained or what they were called, only to take one now and another at the same time the next day.

Her son, Andrew, was born a month premature with a range of problems, including Microcephaly. However it wasn’t until March 2016 whilst watching the news that she realised the tablets she had been given could have caused the disabilities. A phone call to her GP confirmed that she had been given the drug all those years ago and she joined hundreds of other women fighting for recognition of the role that the drug played in their children’s health.

Almost 1.5 million were given the drug in the 1960’s and the 1970’s whilst in the early stages of pregnancy. The pills contained 10mg of Norethisterone and 0.2mg of Ethinylestradiol – elements that would eventually be used in the morning after pill. The concentrations were especially high, equating to around 13 times as strong as emergency contraception.

Now the Ashton MP Angela Rayner has written to the Prime Minister Theresa May to highlight the battle Susan and thousands of other women have been through.

A November 2017 report on the use of Hormonal Pregnancy Tests and abnormal births found no evidence of a causal link between the use of HPT’s during early pregnancies and adverse outcomes.

Since publication, campaign groups have called it a whitewash and have called for further studies to investigate.

Susan says she “doesn’t want an apology” but nevertheless has been left unable to live a normal life due to Andrew’s condition. She said: “I don’t event want an apology off of them. Nothing will ever compensate us. It’s our life and Andrews life as well.

“We’ve just not led a normal life at all. We couldn’t go to parties together, so one of us would have to go.

“It just feels like, I keep saying can it be real? Has it really happened?”

Due to his disabilities, Andrew has very complex needs and has spent most of his life living in an assisted living home in Skelmersdale. He still visits his mother weekly, but his future is up in the air after the announcement that his home is set to close.

Susan explained: “There’s Andrew and two other men there with 24-hour care. I got a phone call last week to say they’re closing it.

“He’s been there 36 years. What do you do? I don’t know what we’re going to do.

“People like Andrew don’t like change – they don’t understand it.”

The Primodos case bares a striking resemblance to that of the Thalidomide scandal, where pregnant women were given the drug to cure morning sickness, but caused more than 10,000 children to be born with deformities. Parents fought for recognition of the role the drug they were given played in affecting their children’s health and were eventually forced to pay compensation following a legal battle. Susan called Primodos “worse than Thalidomide.

In her letter to the PM, Angela Rayner MP called for assurances that cases like this will never happen again. She said: “It is not right that parents like Susan have had to go through life suffering and not knowing why their children were born with abnormalities and disabilities that could have been prevented.

“They may have some of the answers they have been looking for all their lives, but they don’t have justice.

“Their quest to unearth the truth was covered up for decades, which added to the stress and misery they were already enduring.”

Mrs Rayner also extended an invitation to Mrs May to join her and other MP’s at the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Wednesday (28 November) to hear from medical professionals that have taken part in studies linked to Primodos and hopefully decide on a course of action to “get justice for Susan and thousands of other parents who have suffered like she has.”