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Families drop case against epilepsy drug Epilim

image captionSodium valproate - or epilim - is taken to prevent seizures in the brain

Families who were pursuing a legal case against the makers of an epilepsy drug have dropped their action because legal aid was withdrawn.

Lawyers representing the families said they were "devastated" that the case would not be heard.

Manufacturer Sanofi-Aventis has always denied any wrong doing.

Around 80 families claimed that the drug, sodium valproate - also known as epilim, caused a range of birth defects.

They have been pursing a legal action for damages against manufacturer Sanofi-Aventis.

The firm has denied their claims.

The Legal Services Commission said in November that it would no longer fund the action.

The families claim that in the 1990s there were inadequate warnings about possible harm that the drug could cause.

They say the drug caused spina bifida, damage to the heart, learning difficulties cleft palate and deformities of the hands and feet.

The company says it has always provided appropriate precautions and warnings on the risks associated with possible side-effects of the medicine.

Lawyers representing the families, Irwin Mitchell, has urged the Legal Services Commission to rethink its decision.

David Body, from the lawyers said: "We fully support our clients in their ongoing campaign to achieve compensation for the harm their children have suffered as a result of drug exposure."

The case has been in preparation for six years.

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