Scots activists who say hormone pregnancy tests damaged unborn babies welcome royal award

Campaigners who blame hormone pregnancy tests for damaging their unborn babies have welcomed a royal award fighting for the injustice suffered by hundreds of women.

Marie Lyon, chair of the Association for Children Damaged by Hormone Pregnancy Tests (ACDHPT), was given a British Empire Medal (BEM) for advocating for scientific research and improving patient safety for women in the King’s Birthday Honours this month.

Scottish campaigner Sammy Paton, 52, from Edinburgh, was born in 1971 with what medics described as “gross malformations”.

She said: “Hopefully, this is the next step in moving towards justice and final redress for those affected.”

Marie, 77, from Wigan, joined the group in 1978 after her daughter Sarah was born with a severe limb deformity she blames on a hormone pregnancy test she took while pregnant.

She said: “This BEM acknowledges the suffering of families. I accepted this for them.”

Hormone pregnancy tests were given to more than a million women from 1958 to 1978 to determine if they were pregnant.

Many said they were never told of the risks associated with the drugs. Families who blame Primodos and similar drugs for causing abnormalities in babies have been fighting for justice ever since.

Primodos manufacturer, Schering, now part of Bayer, has denied a link and last year a court judge ruled there was no new evidence linking tests with foetal harm.

A UK independent review in July 2020 which examined the use of Primodos found health regulators had failed patients and the drug was responsible for “avoidable harm”.

Primodos was taken off the market in 1978 amid fears of a link to birth defects.

A Bayer spokeswoman said: “In 2017, the Expert Working Group of the UK’s Commission on Human Medicines published a detailed report concluding the available scientific data from a variety of scientific disciplines did not support the existence of a causal relationship between the use of sex hormones in pregnancy and an increased incidence of congenital anomalies in the newborn or of other adverse outcomes such as miscarriage.

“The Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use of the European Medicines Agency supported that conclusion.”

Don't miss the latest news from around Scotland and beyond - Sign up to our daily newsletter here.