Claims News

Judge Allows Claim for Medication Side Effects to Go Ahead after Denying an Application to Dismiss

Posted on: August 14th, 2014

A High Court judge has allowed a claim for medication side effects to go ahead after the company who manufactured the medication applied to have the case thrown out.

Lorna Savage was granted the go-ahead to proceed with her compensation claim for medication side effects after a hearing at the High Court in which the manufacturer of the medication – Pfizer – had applied to have the case to be thrown due to the length of time that had passed since the claim was first filed.

Hearing the application for dismissal at the High Court, Mr Justice George Birmingham was told how Lorna (now 43 years of age) from Cobh in County Cork had been prescribed the steroid Deltacortril in 1997 to treat the skin disorder vasculitis – a condition which damaged blood vessels cluster together and cause an irritable rash on the surface of the skin.

Within a few years of taking Deltacortril, Lorna´s condition had deteriorated due to her developing Avascular Necrosis – a rare but established side effect to Deltacortril, which prevents blood reaching the bones of the knee and hip joints and causes the bone tissue to die – ultimately resulting in the knee and hip bones collapsing entirely.

After four years of being prescribed Deltacortril, Lorna had both knees and one hip replaced, but the Avascular Necrosis side effect had spread to such an extent that she is now reliant on a wheelchair for her mobility and has to manage the constant pain of the disease with morphine.

Judge Birmingham heard that, after seeking legal advice, Lorna made a compensation claim for medication side effects against the two doctors who had prescribed the Deltacortril for her – GP Dr. Michael Madigan and her consultant doctor at the Cork University Hospital – Dr. M Molloy.

In her claim against the estate of Dr Madigan (who died in 1999), Lorna alleged that he had failed to fully investigate her skin condition and had negligently prescribed Deltacortril when he was (or should have been) aware of the potential side effects.  In the case against Dr Molloy, Lorna alleged the consultant had acted negligently by failing to recognise the symptoms of Avascular Necrosis.

Lorna also made a claim for medication side effects compensation against the pharmaceutical company Pfizer; alleging that the company had failed to provide a warning in the literature accompanying the Deltacortril tablets that their continued use could cause Avascular Necrosis, and by neglecting to advise against drinking alcohol while taking the tablets.

The estate of Lorna´s GP, the HSE (of behalf of Dr Molloy and the Cork University Hospital) and Pfizer individually denied negligence in response to Lorna´s claim for medication side effects compensation, and Pfizer applied to have Lorna´s claim dismissed on the grounds of “an inordinate and inexcusable delay” in bringing the case to court.

However, after hearing that the delay in bringing the case to court was due to Lorna being unable to instruct her solicitors as she had recently undergone seven major operations, Mr Justice George Birmingham ruled that the delay was “excusable” and denied Pfizer´s application to dismiss – saying that Lorna´s claim for medication side effects compensation would be listed for a full court hearing later in the year.

This is an Information site only – if you feel you have a potential claim, you should discuss your situation with a solicitor registered with the Law Society of Ireland.