Consumer Protection Act probes the pill

An increasing number of manufacturers of the contraceptive pill are being sued for negligence, reports Roger Pearson

A growing number of cases are going to the High Court in which manufacturers of birth-control pills are being sued.

Two of the latest cases centre on the Femodene-brand contraceptive pill with one of them also involving Marvelon. The first case involves a woman who died, allegedly as a result of the effects of the pill; the second is being brought by a woman who claims she suffered serious blood clotting, as a result of taking it.

The first action is being brought by the children of a Wirral woman who died and whose death is blamed on the pill. They are suing Sussex-based drug manufacturer Schering Healthcare.

The other action is being brought by a woman who claims she suffered deep-vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism as a result of taking the pill. She is also suing Schering.

The first action is being brought under the Fatal Accidents Act 1976 on behalf of Daniel and Aaron Merrick over their mother, Monica Williams, who died in July 1993. In addition to suing Schering they are also suing the Countess of Chester Hospital NHS Trust.

They accuse Schering of negligence in the manufacture, provision, supply and testing of Femodene, and in respect of the advice and warning given for the drug. They also claim that the health authority was negligent in its diagnosis and treatment of her condition.

The second action is being brought by Michelle Markey, of Tilehurst in Reading, who is suing Schering and Organon Laboratories of Cambridge.

Her claim is being brought under the Consumer Protection Act 1987. She accuses the two companies of negligence and breach of statutory duty in respect of the manufacture, provision, supply, packaging and testing of the pills, including the advice and warning given.

The claim by Markey, who first became aware of her condition in August 1994, involves both Femodene and Marvelon.

The firms acting for the plaintiffs are Lees & Partners of Birkenhead and Shoosmiths & Harrison of Reading.