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22nd Mar 2017

Documentary linking pregnancy test drug to birth defects to air tonight

Amanda Cassidy

It is being described as the forgotten drugs scandal.

And now a documentary about Primodos will go out tonight on Sky News.

Primodos, also known as Dougynon, was introduced in the 1960s as a method of detecting pregnancy.

The pills contained a high dose of hormones that, it was assumed, pregnancy women could absorb while it would trigger your menstrual cycle if you weren’t pregnant.

Although not licenced here in Ireland, it was available and expectant mums were prescribed the pills until 1978 when it was removed from the market.

The documentary is a culmination of six years of research by reporter Jason Farrell who was given access to archives in Germany.

He claims that evidence he found shows that British officials were aware of a possible link between the drug and birth defects. reports that this drug was flagged to the Irish National Drugs Advisory Board by mums who suspected is had lead to abnormalities in their children.

The company who made the pills was taken over by Bayer who has consistently denied that the drug played any role in children born with congenital birth defects.

The Independent reports that a warning was issued to doctors encouraging them not to prescribe the use of these hormone pregnancy tests as early as 1975

“There have been a few publications suggesting a possible relationship between the use of these preparations for such a purpose and the subsequent birth of offspring with congenital abnormalities.

Although there was a lack of “strong evidence” linking the drug to birth defects it “would be wiser to avoid the use of oestrogen progestogen preparations for this purpose since a firm statement of safety cannot be given” the notice said.

One mum interviewed in tonight’s documentary who’s daughter was born with limb abnormalities says that she has been campaigning for years to get an apology from the makers of the pill.

She believes her daughter’s deformation is as a result of her taking the pill:

“There was a noninvasive test available, there was no need for these drugs – except of course they made money”

Watch the full documentary Promidos: The forgotten drug scandal” tonight at 9pm on Sky News