A judge has denied an application to dismiss an adverse reaction compensation claim and scheduled it to be heard later this year in the High Court.
Mr Justice George Birmingham denied the application to dismiss after hearing how Lorna Savage (43) from Cobh in County Cork had been prescribed the steroid Deltacortril by her GP when she was twenty-seven years old to treat vasculitis – a skin condition which damages blood vessels that then group together to form an irritable and unsightly rash.
The judge was told that after taking Deltacortril for several years, Lorna developed Avascular Necrosis – a known but rare side effect of the steroid – a disorder which prevents blood from reaching the joint bones, so that the tissue dies and the joint eventually disintegrates. By the time Lorna was thirty-one years of age, she had one hip and both knees replaced, was confined to a wheelchair and taking morphine to handle the pain.
Lorna made an adverse reaction compensation claim against her GP – Dr. Michael Madigan – and her consultant doctor at Cork University Hospital – Dr. M Molloy – who continued to prescribe Deltacortril after Dr. Madigan´s death in 1999. In her claim against Dr. Madigan, Lorna alleged that her GP had not sufficiently investigated her skin condition and had negligently prescribed Deltacortril tablets when he was (or should have been) knowledgeable of the potential side effects of taking the steroids.
Lorna´s adverse reaction compensation claim against Dr. Molloy alleged that he had continued to prescribe Deltacortril after Dr. Madigan´s death and had failed to identify the symptoms of Avascular Necrosis despite her deteriorating condition. A parallel claim was also made against the manufacturers of the steroids – Pfizer – in which Lorna alleged the manufacturer of the steroid had failed to advise people taking Deltacortril that continued use of the tablets could result in Avascular Necrosis. Lorna also alleged that neither doctor nor Pfizer gave any indication that drinking alcohol while taking the tablets was a risk.
The three defendants each denied negligence and Pfizer applied to have Lorna´s adverse reaction compensation claim dismissed on the grounds that there had been an “inexcusable delay” in bringing the case to court. However, after hearing arguments from solicitors representing Lorna and Pfizer, Mr Justice George Birmingham found that the delay in bringing the case to court was “excusable” because the delay had been due by Lorna having to undergo further surgery.
The judge said that the extended recovery period from the surgery had prevented Lorna from instructing her solicitors and was a valid reason for the delay. Judge Birmingham denied Pfizer´s application to dismiss the case and ordered that Lorna´s adverse reaction compensation claim be scheduled for a hearing in the High Court later in 2014.