Theresa May urges Government to consider redress for Primodos victims

Theresa May has urged the Government to consider “redress” for the victims of a hormone pregnancy test blamed for causing serious birth defects.

The former prime minister said that while Primodos victims had received an apology, “lives have suffered as a result” of the drug’s use.

In an interview for a Sky News documentary, she praised campaigners who had been “beating their head against a brick wall of the state” which tried to “stop them in their tracks”.

A review in 2017 found that scientific evidence did “not support a causal association” between the use of hormone pregnancy tests such as Primodos and birth defects or miscarriage.

But Mrs May ordered a second review in 2018, because, she said, she felt that it “wasn’t the slam-dunk answer that people said it was”.

“At one point it says that they could not find a causal association between Primodos and congenital anomalies, but neither could they categorically say that there was no causal link,” she said.

The second review concluded last month that there had been “avoidable harm” caused by Primodos and two other products – sodium valproate and vaginal mesh.

Mrs May told Sky: “I think it’s important that the Government looks at the whole question of redress and about how that redress can be brought up for people.

“They’ve had an apology and that’s important, but obviously, lives have suffered as a result.”

The review concluded that “from 1967, hormone pregnancy tests should no longer have been available” due to the “suggestion of increased risk”.

However, the tests were not fully withdrawn from the UK until 1978, and a bitter row lasting half a century has ensued, with families desperate for answers.

The former prime minister said: “I almost felt it was sort of women being patted on the head and being told ‘there there dear’, don’t worry. You’re imagining it. You don’t know. We know better than you do.”

She added: “I think this is a very sad example of a situation where people were badly affected, not just by the physical and mental aspect of what Primodos actually did, but by the fact that nobody then listened to them…

“One of the other problems within the public sector is there’s often a natural inclination to protect the institution and not listen to people’s complaints in order to sort of clam up and protect the institution itself.

“When I became prime minister, the first speech I gave on the steps of Number 10 was about social justice and the need to deal with burning injustices. And I think the way that the campaigners on Primodos were treated was an injustice.

“They deserve to be treated fairly. They weren’t. They weren’t listened to.”

– Bitter Pill: Primodos will air on Sky Documentaries at 9pm on Monday.