Burnley mum’s fight for clinical trials

PETITION: Case worker at MP Gordon Birtwistle's office Neil Darby with Samantha Dearnaley who has started a petition for stricter tests on drugs and pharmaceutical companies after developing epilepsy which she believes was triggered by the drug Champix.

PETITION: Case worker at MP Gordon Birtwistle's office Neil Darby with Samantha Dearnaley who has started a petition for stricter tests on drugs and pharmaceutical companies after developing epilepsy which she believes was triggered by the drug Champix.

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A BURNLEY mum who said her life has been ruined by a stop-smoking drug has launched a petition calling for the Government to subject clinical trials and drug companies to more rigorous investigation.

Samantha Dearnaley (37), of Nelson Square, developed epilepsy weeks after taking Champix, which she now wants banned to prevent other people suffering the same fate.

Ahead of Stoptober next month, a Government campaign to encourage people to give up smoking for 28 days, she is urging Burnley residents to sign the petition and ask more questions about the drugs they are prescribed, including possible side-effects.

Samantha also wants to raise awareness of the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) yellow card scheme which allows patients to report side-effects of particular medicines.

The former company director and mum of two teenage girls has spent the last few years researching genetics and bio-chemistry and has contacted medical experts around the world in a bid to understand her plight.

She said she needs 100,000 signatures so she can take her case to Government, and has the backing of the town’s MP Gordon Birtwistle. A similar petition has also been launched in other areas of the UK by people who have suffered severe side effects from medication.

Champix, which is the trade name of the drug varenicline, is a prescription medication used to treat smoking addiction and is made by American pharmaceutical firm Pfizer.

Samantha believes the drug, which she was prescribed to help her quit smoking, triggered her epilepsy and led to her to suffer terrifying seizures.

“In America people are suing for $150m. but what I would like to see is the money being pumped back into the NHS.

“It’s not about the money it’s a moral issue.”

A former co-owner of Dexter Paints in Trafalgar Street, Samantha has had to give up the business and is still cared for at home by her partner.

She said she has also been sectioned as a result of the stress and medication she has been under.

She said she is slowly beginning to get better but it is a long process.

“I’m not against drugs, we all know that drugs have side effects but more of these should be made public knowledge,” she added.

MP Mr Birtwistle said: “I fully support her campaign because she’s a living example of the problems that this drug creates.”

• Anyone who wants to sign the petition can contact Samantha on 01282 789867.