Media man oversexed, but not overruled

Roger Pearson reports on a London publisher given the go-ahead to sue a drug company over radical lifestyle changes.

One of the most unusual personal injury cases ever is now heading for the High Court.

A north west London magazine publisher has won the go-ahead from the Court of Appeal to sue the manufacturers of the drug Bromocriptine, which, he claims, greatly enhanced his sex drive and also sent him temporarily mad.

Richard Davis, 51, has launched action against Norvartis Pharmaceuticals, consultant Professor Howard Jacobs and Camden and Islington Health Authority over the effects of the trial drug which he says he took in a bid to clear a blocked nose.

His claim against the pharmaceutical company is bel-ieved to be worth in the region of u5 m.

His successful appeal court moves followed refusal in October 1997 of High Court consent for him to add the drug manufacturers to the list of those he was suing and also to amend his claims against Professor Jacobs and the Health Authority.

He alleges that after taking the drug he made irrational business decisions, began leading an extravagant lifestyle and ultimately ended up bankrupt.

In giving him leave to sue the drug company and to amend his other claims, Lord Justice Brooke said in the Court of Appeal that his behaviour in 1990 and 1991 was so completely bizarre that it prima facie called into question the professional competence of those who were conducting or monitoring the trials of the drug, which should have been conducted in accordance with the detailed requirements of the trial protocol.

If Mr Davis was right in his claims, then he had suffered grievously by reasons of the negligence of the defendants, said Lord Justice Brooke.

At the time in question clinical trials on the drug were being conducted at the Middlesex Hospital and Mr Davis signed a consent form agreeing to take part. Lord Justice Brooke said his case was that as a result of taking the drug he became psychotic and hypomanic.

"He also became over confident and committed criminal offences for which he was later convicted. Other features of his condition in 1989-1991 were that he became over-extravagant and lost a lot of weight. His libido also increased dramatically," said the judge.

When the case reaches court Mr Davis will argue that his psychological condition was not properly monitored even though the defendants knew there was a danger of adverse mental reactions in around 25 per cent of patients using the drug.