IMMDS Review listens to Dr Jesse Olszynko-Gryn about Primodos

Independent Medicines and Medical Devices Safety Review Oral Hearing, 26th November 2018

The Independent Medicines and Medical Devices Safety Review is Chaired by Baroness Julia Cumberlege CBE DL.

In February 2018, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, the Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP, announced a review into how the health system responds to reports from patients about harmful side effects from medicines and medical devices. The announcement in the House of Commons follows patient-led campaigns on the use of the hormone pregnancy test Primodos, anti-epileptic drug sodium valproate and surgical mesh.

About Primodos

  • Read and/or download the full study (free access) Oral hormone pregnancy tests and the risks of congenital malformations: a systematic review and meta-analysis, F1000Research, First published 31 Oct 2018, 7:1725, DOI:10.12688/f1000research.16758.1.
  • Read and/or download the full study (free access) The Primodos components Norethisterone acetate and Ethinyl estradiol induce developmental abnormalities in zebrafsh embryos, nature, Published 13 Feb 2018, DOI:10.1038/s41598-018-21318-9.
  • To read some real stories told by the Primodos victims, go to this post comment section.  Read our posts tagged primodos.

Why did Primodos remain on the British market for so long ?

A historical argument for regulatory failure in the case of Primodos and other hormone pregnancy tests

Abstract

The drug Primodos and other hormone pregnancy tests (HPTs) remained on the British market for about a decade after they were first implicated, in 1967, as a possible cause of birth defects.

In November 2017, an expert working group (EWG) set up by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) concluded against such an association.

However, it was explicitly ‘not within the remit of the EWG to make formal conclusions or recommendations on the historical system or regulatory failures’, a situation that has left many stakeholders dissatisfied.

Placing the question of a teratogenicity to one side, this article takes a more contextual and comparative approach than was possible under the auspices of MHRA. It asks why an unnecessary and possibly even harmful drug was allowed to remain on the British market when a reliable and perfectly safe alternative existed: urine tests for pregnancy.

Based on archival research in several countries, this article builds a historical argument for regulatory failure in the case of HPTs.

It concludes that the independent review which campaigners are calling for would have the potential to not only bring them a form of closure, but would also shed light on pressing issues of more general significance regarding risk, regulation and communication between policy makers, medical experts and patients.

Read Jesse Olszynko-Gryn’s full paper (free access) A historical argument for regulatory failure in the case of Primodos and other hormone pregnancy tests on rbmsociety, August 2018.