Woman Alleges Pfizer Drug Left Her In Wheelchair

Published: Aug 04, 2014

Woman Alleges Pfizer Inc. Drug Left Her In Wheelchair Woman Alleges Pfizer Drug Left Her In Wheelchair
August 4, 2014
By Jessica Wilson, BioSpace.com Breaking News Staff

On Friday, August 1st, Mr. Justice George Birmingham of the High Court of Ireland ruled that a lawsuit brought by an Irish resident against the drug company Pfizer may proceed.

At the age of 26, Lorna Savage, a resident of Cobh, County Cork, Ireland, was prescribed the steroid manufactured and marketed by Pfizer under the trade name Deltacortril. Over the course of two years, from 1997 until 1999, she took the drug daily to treat vasculitis. From this usage, she developed a medical condition known as avascular necrosis, which causes debilitating pain due to the collapse and death of bone tissue from lack of blood supply. Within four years of taking the drug, she had two knee and one hip replacement surgeries. Today, at age 43, she is confined to a wheelchair and requires morphine for the pain. Savage is seeking damages for alleged negligence against Pfizer Ireland Ltd. and Pfizer. She claims she was not warned of the possible side effects of Deltacortril.

Savage is also suing the estate of her General Practitioner at the time, the late Michael Madigan, the Consultant Doctor MG Molloy and the Southern Health Board, an organ of the state-run healthcare service.

All of her claims have been denied by the accused parties.

Lawyers for Pfizer filed a pre-trial motion to dismiss the claim on the basis that an inordinate and inexcusable amount of time had passed between the alleged negligence and the initiation of legal action by Savage. Her lawyers argued against this dismissal. The High Court ruled in favor of Savage, with the Judge stating that the delay had been inordinate, but not inexcusable, and that the "balance of justice lay in allowing Ms. Savage's case to proceed" given the complex evidence involved. The case is set to appear before a judge of the High Court this year.

The crux of her claim is that Pfizer did not provide adequate information in the literature accompanying the drug nor on the packaging that advised her of the possibility of developing avascular necrosis. She claims she did not receive any warning from the company about the potential side effects of Deltacortril.

Prednisolone, the generic name of Deltacortril, is a corticosteroid; it is sold under the names Deltastab and Dilacort, in addition to Deltacortril. Steroids work by suppressing the body’s immune system and thereby reducing swelling and inflammation. Doctors prescribe steroids to treat a number of conditions, ranging from asthma to skin rashes.

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