||Below is a
selection of letters from Sunday
Times readers which capture
aspects of the medical problems
with this drug. Emails from
visitors to this site, since
2002, may be viewed via the link
at the foot of this page, and
If you have come to
this website because you are
unwell, and have for some reason
associated your problem with a
trimethoprim, you should seek
medical advice. Emergency
linked to this drug may often be
minor, or long-term and/or vague,
but if you are experiencing
burning sensations, stinging or
blisters - particularly in the
eyes, mouth, genitals or rectum -
fever, rash or other symptoms
causing you acute concern, you
should seek IMMEDIATE medical
supervision, if necessary at an
emergency room. Most users suffer
no adverse events, and serious
problems are uncommon. But, in
certain unusual situations,
adverse events may quickly become
disabling. Your physician may not
necessarily know this
A P Langham, Harlow, Essex
read with interest your article on Septrin
in your magazine.
son Shane died in Great Ormond Street
Hospital after spending many years in and
out of hospitals after taking the drug
was given Septrin at a very early age, 5
years old. He began to get very bad
blistering to his face, lips, ears and
eyes. We sent him to St John's Hospital
and were told his condition was due to
exposure to daylight. For the next three
years of his life he was unable to go out
and not able to attend school, or live a
normal life. His condition got worse - he
was still being given Septrin by our GP.
He lost weight and did not grow. After I
informed Dr Hawk and Dr Atherton that I
was concerned about his general health he
was sent to Great Ormond Street Hospital
for many years. He was in and out of
Great Ormond Street. He had numerous
tests, operations, biopsies, but his
condition got worse. He began to blister
so much internally that we would pass a
tube through his nose into his stomach to
have a liquid feed.
immune system broke down and healing
after an operation was non-existent. He
had a circumcision which did not heal
even after a year. His lungs became
affected and he was sent to Brompton lung
hospital for more tests. This was when he
was sixteen years old. About 2 months
after those tests his lung collapsed and
he was back in Great Ormond Street
Hospital. He died in hospital just before
his 17th birthday.
life was taken from him and I ask this
question. Who was responsible for his
Those who produced and marketed the
The GP who in good faith prescribed it?
My wife and I for giving it to our son?
Great Ormond Street for not linking it to
Septrin for over ten years in their care?
wife and I have to live with this
nightmare. So do his brothers and
sisters. If this letter helps in any way
Kate Reid with her quest, then Shane's
death can and should help others who may
be thinking of giving Septrin to think
death is one too many.
David Gedala, Coulsdon, Surrey
Septrin - Your front
page article (Sunday
have recently been helping and supporting
family friends to get over a near fatal
incident, arising out of taking Septrin.
As I was reading your article this
morning I felt I have to write and inform
you about a serious incident relating to
the intake of Septrin.
following is an accurate account of what
Family background. Joe Madalura is
married with three children aged 5, 12
and 17 years. His wife is a psychiatric
nurse. Joe until the near fatal dose of
Septrin never suffered from any serious
illness or received any major treatment.
He was fit and active, he has worked hard
as a mini-cab driver for more than 15
On December 8th 1993, he went to see his
family GP because of an earache problem
and was prescribed Septrin.
Emergency GP services were called out to
his home following severe breathlessness,
skin condition and weakness. The GP
diagnosed his illness as measles and flu.
As the situation worsened Joe could not
breathe, pass urine and was bed-bound.
In obvious panic Joe's wife took him to
Mayday University Hospital and he was
admitted on January 4th 1994.
There the battle to save his life
started, after intervention from Croydon
Community Health Council. A consultant
took over the case and performed major
treatment on Joe's kidneys, liver and
other organs, to reactivate all the major
body functions, which had ceased.
Joe was in hospital in intensive care and
relatives and parents flew from Canada to
see him as his condition was critical and
no one was confident about Joe pulling
through. Thanks to the consultant and his
staff Joe did pull through.
Currently Joe has lost weight and can
just about walk a few yards, cannot drive
and once a very sharp brain is now
struggling with intermittent memory loss
With help of Croydon Community Health
Council, a complaint was lodged against
the GPs through the local FHSA committee.
The complaint about the GPs is being
investigated by a neighbouring authority,
Kingston FHSA, as the GP is a member of
the local FHSA committee.
The attached copy of the discharge report
indicates the cause of Joe's near fatal
illness and the consequent pain,
depression and disruption to his family,
and the possibility of not being the
bread winner for a long time.
There is a sad twist to this: the
consultant having found out that a
complaint has been lodged, has approached
Joe to ask if he could change the words
on the discharge report, from Septrin
induced reaction to some other cause.
Rightly Joe and his wife refused to
return his discharge report.
and his wife are originally from the
Philippines and came to the UK 20 years
ago. Their three children were all born
here. They have no financial, legal or
other resources to fight for a full and
fair investigation. Joe is suffering with
long term, possibly permanent damage to
writing this letter to you with Joe and
his wife's permission. They feel very
vulnerable and helpless and are not
confident about the outcome of the FHSA
you wish to discuss this further please
do not hesitate to contact me. I am a
senior manager with social services with
a London local authority. I am taking
this up on behalf of Joe and his family,
as they are not very articulate and feel
very unsure and nervous about
Mrs Carole Heath, Bournemouth, Dorset
your article "The
Pill That Killed" by
name is Carole Heath and I, amongst a
great many fellow sufferers, have been
victim of the drug "Septrin".
history started in April 1976 at the age
of a fit and healthy 25 year old. I was
at the time in Aberdeen where I
contracted a urine infection for which
the local GP gave me Septrin. The
condition worsened, so he doubled the
dose of Septrin and he went away for the
weekend. By the time he arrived back, I
was so ill I was admitted to Aberdeen
Royal Infirmary where I had many tests
and finally blacked out having had
diarrhoea twenty-three times out of
twenty-four hours. The diarrhoea was very
serious as it had blood in it.
was rushed to Aberdeen Teaching Hospital
where I was told if I didn't have an
immediate operation my bowel would burst.
The operation was called an ileostomy and
I would have to wear a bag for the rest
of my life.
had the op, but luckily for me the
registrar had seen another case like mine
before which was an allergy to Septrin,
so I would only have to wear a bag for
six weeks and then be reconnected after a
course of steroids to rid the infection
and rest my bowel.
still in hospital recovering I started
haemorrhaging and an ulcer was diagnosed.
The ulcer was being fed by the aorta and
it grew so much it burst and I have a
massive haemorrhage, blacking out and
haemorrhaging from every opening
had an emergency partial gastrectomy. I
finally left hospital looking like a
skeleton and losing my hair which
eventually all fell out and I lost two
stones in weight, which I have never
wore a bag (ileostomy) for six weeks and
learning I had what the doctors call very
severe dumping syndrome - which causes
diarrhoea, vomiting, sweating and
bloating of the stomach after every meal.
So in 1978 at a London hospital I had a
reverse loop put in (a section of bowel
was removed and turned around) to stop
the food going through too quickly.
year I have been in various hospitals for
operations to remove stitches, adhesions
and haemorrhoids, sometimes two or three
times a year.
1984 I had a disc go in my neck for which
I had another major operation, taking
bone from my hip to replace the disc.
Unfortunately this was unsuccessful and I
still have trouble now.
son (Stephen) who is now twelve years old
has never known me well. All he remembers
is visits to the hospitals to see me.
1986 at Hammersmith Hospital, London,
where I had spent 2 years in an out with
various tests and investigations as to
why I couldn't even keep down water let
had yet another major operation to remove
part of the reverse-loop-bowel which was
blocking, but this was only partially
successful, so after most meals I am very
was treated at Oxford hospital for
sickness where I was given different
drugs. The same at Hammersmith which
didn't help the symptoms and only made me
feel like a zombie.
marriage went from bad to worse and in
1991 unable to cope my husband left me
and divorced me in 1992 and married a fit
and healthy woman.
not only was I very ill losing my youth,
I lost my marriage as well and I
developed another ulcer and now have
life I have in store for me I don't know
as I battle on.
read the article by Brian Deer and was
heartened to hear I wasn't alone with my
reaction to Septrin but now feel
abandoned as there has been no follow-up
article or further action.
you for your kind attention.
Margery Russell, Chester
you for your letter of the 7th April with
enclosures and for all the trouble you
have taken researching Septrin. Your
articles have helped me enormously as my
reactions to Septrin were considered by
the medical profession as coincidental
with my taking the drug and now it is on
the computer as something I must not
have. My husband who has had a very
tiring time coping with my long illness
now knows that it was caused by the drug.
Previously he said over and over again
"it is only what you say".
Zofia Mescall, High Wycombe, Bucks
was prescribed Septrin Forte
in September 1978 for a sore throat. My
health at that time was perfect in every
other way and I was enjoying a full and
happy life with my husband and two young
forty eight hours I suffered a very
serious collapse which was closely
followed by rash, purpura under the skin,
blistering in my mouth and throat,
swelling, breathlessness, oedema, nausea,
pains, intestinal symptoms, dizziness,
weakness. Blistering of my eyes followed
together with profuse bleeding, collapse
and near death.
health has never returned. The past
sixteen years have been a limbo. I am,
and have been since taking Septrin,
disabled. I feel maimed and am dependent
on others. I have suffered the
indignities of invasive investigations,
surgery, loss of earning potential. My
sons have been deprived of a healthy
mother, from the age of four and eight,
and I of their childhood. Doctors refused
to listen and admit their blunder until I
met one who had suffered a reaction
brilliant articles in the Sunday Times
raised hopes for victims like myself. Why
have you allowed a scandal to be revealed
then taken it no further? How can all of
us who are already weakened because of
injury take on Wellcome? The exposure in
the Sunday Times united many sufferers.
My voice has not been heard in sixteen
years. I know your job is to publish news
but I envy you the privilege of your
position which empowers you to act and
stop this chemical poison from damaging
more people and ruining lives of affected
families. You have resources to deal with
this, we do not.
recently leant of a little five year old
girl Fiona, who lives close by. At four
years old she suffered the same syndrome
- I was deprived of enjoying motherhood,
she, sixteen years later her early
childhood. What quality of life has she
to look forward to? Her mother is filled
with grief and guilt for "feeding
this poison" to her child. Would you
take Septrin or administer it to one you
John Foss, Bristol
one who suffered the Stevens-Johnson
syndrome, and was seriously ill for a
week, in June 1981, after being
prescribed the drug by a doctor at
Stockwood Health Centre (Bristol) for a
sore throat, I would like to be put in
touch with Kate
Reid. Could you very
kindly pass my enclosed letter on to her?
sure hundreds will be writing to you, but
if you are keeping a score, I was warned
by the lady doctor who attended me at
Hayle, Cornwall, where we took a holiday,
that I must never take it again because
another course of Septrin could kill me.
days after being prescribed the drug (on
the Saturday night of our arrival at
Hayle for a holiday) I went to bed with
an unpleasantly itchy left hand, its
centre marked by a small red spot. I
awakened in the morning with large,
ballooning clusters of red blisters from
my knees, up over my genital area,
covering the whole of my front to my
shoulders, and all down my arms and my
back. Only my lower legs, neck and face
spent four days of excruciating pain,
treated by Piriton and cold baths day and
night. After only some 10 minutes of
relief from the excessive heat I was
creating, the water heated up enough to
wash-up in! It was a dreadful and
the Wednesday night, I collapsed
unconscious, and curiously, it marked the
turning point and start of recovery.
the Saturday I was able to make a shaky
drive home, but it was eight weeks before
I was able to work. My doctor at
Stockwood dismissed it as a
"one-in-a-million" bit of bad
luck. And that was that.