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Monday, 1 October, 2001, 18:04 GMT 19:04 UK
Women sue over pill
Women taking the pill
The safety debate over newer pills was sparked in 1995
The families of more than 100 women are set to sue the makers of the third generation contraceptive pill.

They say they were not warned of the potential side effects.

Lawyers representing the families of 122 women announced on Monday that they were taking three pharmaceutical companies to the High Court in London.

They claim the third generation pill caused these women to develop blood clots which led to long-term damage to their health, and in around 10% of cases proved fatal.

However, the pharmaceutical companies have rejected suggestions that the third generation pill is slightly riskier than its predecessors.

Compensation

The case is the first of its type. If successful, it could lead to massive compensation payouts.

The three companies would be sued under the Consumer Protection Act based on the claim that the product is defective.

A statement issued by Hereford-based Houghton and Co solicitors, representing the women, said: "It is the claimants' case and has always been that third generation pills have an increased risk for pulmonary embolism, deep vein thrombosis and paradoxical embolism [different types of blood clot].

"Some other conditions and injuries that have been suffered have included death, paralysis and life long disabilities due to clots in the deep veins.

"The oral contraceptive group litigation will go on trial in January 2002 and we are confident that all the evidence is now in place to establish that the risks associated with third generation oral contraceptive pills are greater than those of their predecessor pills and that the manufacturers should have carried out research into this and taken steps to protect the public."

Increased risk

The announcement comes after the European Agency for the Evaluation of Medicinal Products (EMEA) said that the third generation pill was slightly more likely to cause blood clots than the second generation.

However, the EMEA's Committee for Proprietary Medicinal Products (CPMP) said the risk was small compared to the overall benefits, and that it was less than the risk of developing the same problem during pregnancy.

The Department of Health said there is no reason for women to stop taking the pill.

The companies are Schering Healthcare, Organon Laboratories and Wyeth, all of which said they would vigorously defend the claims.

A spokesman for Organon Laboratories said its disagreed with the CPMP findings that there was a slightly increased risk of taking the third generation pill compared to its predecessors.

Other evidence showed there was no difference between the second and third generation pills, he said.

A spokeswoman for Wyeth said: "The legislation has been going on for a long time. The announcement by the CPMP will not change the litigation.

"We will be defending the action."

A spokeswoman for Schering said she was unable to comment at this time.

See also:

10 Nov 00 | Health
Research spells out Pill risks
16 Jun 00 | Health
Pill fears played down
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