Claim for Compensation for Deltacortril Side Effects Allowed to Proceed

A Cork woman´s claim for compensation for Deltacortril side effects has been allowed to proceed after a hearing at the High Court

Lorna Savage (43) from Cobh in County Cork was given permission to proceed with her claim for compensation for Deltacortril side effects after a motion to dismiss her case brought by one of the defendants was denied at the High Court.

Lorna had first been prescribed the steroid Deltacortril in 1997 to treat the skin condition vasculitis – a disorder which damages blood vessels and causes them to cluster together to form an unsightly and irritable rash on the surface of the skin.

After taking Deltacortril for several years, Lorna´s developed Avascular Necrosis – an uncommon but known side effect of Deltacortril – a disorder which stops blood reaching the bones of the knee and hip joints with the resulting effect that the bone tissue dies and the bone ultimately collapses.

By the time Lorna was thirty one years old, she had both knees and one hip replaced, and the Avascular Necrosis disorder had spread to such an extent that she was reliant on a wheelchair for her mobility and was permanently on morphine to control the pain.

After seeking legal advice, Lorna made a claim for compensation for Deltacortril side effects against the two doctors who had prescribed the steroid tablets for her – her GP, Dr. Michael Madigan, and Dr. M Molloy -her consultant doctor at the Cork University Hospital.

In her claim against Dr. Madigan, Lorna alleged that her GP had not investigated her skin condition fully and had negligently prescribed Deltacortril when he was (or should have been) aware of the possible side effects.  In her action against Dr. Molloy, Lorna alleged the consultant had failed to identify the symptoms of Avascular Necrosis and continued to prescribe the steroids.

Lorna also made a claim for compensation for Deltacortril side effects compensation against the manufacturer of the steroids – the pharmaceutical company Pfizer – alleging that the company had failed to include a warning in the literature accompanying the steroids that their continued use could cause Avascular Necrosis, and by neglecting to advise against drinking alcohol while taking the tablets.

The estate of Lorna´s GP (Dr. Madigan died in 1999), the HSE (of behalf of the Cork University Hospital where Dr. Molloy worked) and Pfizer denied that they had been negligent; and Pfizer applied to have Lorna´s claim for compensation for Deltacortril side effects dismissed on the grounds of “an inordinate and inexcusable delay” in bringing the case to court.

Mr Justice George Birmingham ruled that the delay was “excusable” after hearing that the delay in bringing the case to court was due to Lorna being unable to instruct her solicitors as she had recently undergone several major operations. The judge refused Pfizer´s application to dismiss the case – stating that Lorna´s claim for compensation for Deltacortril side effects would be listed for a full court hearing later in the year.