A woman´s personal injury claim for an adverse reaction to medication has been given the green light to be heard in the High Court later this year.
Lorna Savage from Cobh in County Cork was granted permission to pursue her personal injury claim for an adverse reaction to medication after a High Court hearing in which the pharmaceuticals company – Pfizer – had applied for the case to be struck out on the grounds of “an inordinate and inexcusable delay” in bringing her claim.
Mr Justice George Birmingham at the High Court dismissed the application after hearing how Lorna (now 43 years of age) had started taking the steroid Deltacortril in 1997 to treat vasculitis – a condition in which the blood vessels are damaged and cause an irritable rash.
Judge Birmingham was told that within a few years of taking the medication, Lorna had developed Avascular Necrosis – a rare but established side effect of Deltacortril, which interrupts the passage of blood to the bones, causing the bone tissue to die and the bone collapse.
By 2001 – at the age of 31 – Lorna had to have both knees and a hip joint replaced, and her condition has deteriorated to such an extent that she is now confined to a wheelchair and has to take morphine to manage the ongoing pain she suffers.
After seeking legal advice, Lorna made a personal injury claim for an adverse reaction to medication against the estate of GP Dr. Michael Madigan and her consultant Dr. MG Molloy – who both prescribed the medication to her – and Pfizer, the manufacturer of the steroid.
In her action against the two doctors, Lorna alleged that they had both acted negligently by prescribing the medication for her, failing to investigate her symptoms thoroughly, and failing to identify that she was developing Avascular Necrosis.
Lorna also claimed that Pfizer had failed to provide adequate warning in the literature accompanying the Deltacortril tablets that their continued use could cause Avascular Necrosis, and that there was no warning advising against the drinking of alcohol while taking the tablets.
The estate of Dr Madigan (who died in 1999), the HSE (of behalf of Dr Molloy who was employed by Cork University Hospital) and Pfizer each deny their liability for Lorna´s adverse reaction and, in a pretrial motion, lawyers representing Pfizer attempted to get Lorna´s personal injury claim for an adverse reaction to medication thrown out on the grounds of “an inordinate and inexcusable delay” in bringing her claim to court.
However, Mr Justice George Birmingham dismissed the application – finding that the time that had elapsed was excusable due to Lorna having recently undergone multiple surgeries after which she had been unable to brief her solicitors. The judge said that the case would be listed for a full court hearing later in the year.