Sinn Féin spokesperson on Disability, Pauline Tully TD, has called on the Minister for Health to clarify his apparent u-turn on holding an inquiry into the drug Epilim.
Her comments follow media reports that Minister Donnelly no longer supports an inquiry into the matter.
Teachta Tully said:
“The drug sodium valproate which also goes by the trade name Epilim, is a medicine for epilepsy which has been linked to birth defects and is at the centre of considerable controversy around the world.
“The HSE estimates that some 1,250 children born between 1975 and 2015 in Ireland have experienced neurodevelopmental delay due to this drug being taken by their mothers during pregnancy.
“Some 400 born during this time have experienced foetal anticonvulsant syndrome (FACS), which can severely impact on quality of life.
“The women had not been informed that taking the drug during pregnancy could impact on foetal development.
“Other countries, such as France, have taken steps to address this issue by introducing compensation schemes for families affected.
“Sinn Féin have long been calling for an inquiry to be set up in order to establish the extent to which this has impacted on families in Ireland and what can be done to support those affected now.
“While an opposition TD, Stephen Donnelly supported these calls. As recently as January this year, he stated publicly that he backs an inquiry.
“However, since taking up office as minister, he has changed his position and now opposes an inquiry.
“I am calling on Minister Donnelly to clarify his position and why his stance has now changed.
“Thousands of families had their lives severely impacted by this drug and its effects. They deserve answers and they deserve support to meet the challenges they continue to face.
“Sinn Féin will continue to support an inquiry and to support these families’ demands to be heard.”