Dublin South West TD, Seán Crowe, has said he supports calls for an independent investigation into the historical prescribing of valproate to pregnant women.
The Sinn Féin TD said that it is now clear that hundreds of children have been born with disabilities as a direct result of the prescribing of valproate (known as Epilim in Ireland), which is a drug licensed in Ireland for the treatment of Epilepsy and bi-polar disorder, and that many parents are still trying to get a full prognosis to ascertain the side effects of this particular drug on their child or children.
Deputy Seán Crowe said:
“There is clearly something wrong when a mother, 17 years after taking epilepsy medication during pregnancy, is still trying to get a prognosis and ascertain what side effects a drug like valproate has had on her children.
“It is a historical fact that parents were not informed of any risks or risk-reduction measures they needed to put in place and continued to be prescribed valproate during pregnancy.
“In view of this, I cannot understand the current government’s reluctance to hold an independent investigation into the matter, as we know there are still many questions to be answered.
“We also know that this State is not the only jurisdiction to be affected by the valproate scandal. In November last year the French government approved a €10 million fund to meet compensation claims as a starting point for people impacted by this drug. In February of this year the British government announced its own review of how Valproate concerns were handled in the past.
“What is behind the delay here? An independent investigation in Ireland could ascertain if and how existing cases of Fetal Anti Convulsant Syndromes (FACS) could have been prevented, and whether appropriate and timely information was actually provided to healthcare professionals and patients in line with knowledge at that particular time.
“Valproate-related disabilities are complex would appear to be wide-ranging and individual. Obtaining a diagnosis in Ireland is difficult and lengthy and it is frustrating that decades later, many parents are still looking for a comprehensive diagnosis into what precisely the impact this drug has had on their child or children.
“Treatment for some often involves attending a multitude of unconnected and uncoordinated speciality services. Some families have had one or more children affected and in extreme cases full-time care is required.
“It is critical that appropriate supports are now put in place, with many families who desperately need therapies and treatment not in a financial position to afford them. This is an intolerable situation for them to be left in and I support the calls for an independent inquiry into the historical prescribing of valproate to pregnant women in Ireland.”