Last week in the US, it was announced that Pampers nappies manufacturer Proctor & Gamble has paid out $3m and agreed to fund clinical training to reduce the incidence of nappy rash.
Nappies containing Dry Max technology, trumpeted as a way of making nappies thinner yet more absorbent, have been blamed by thousands of parents in both the US and UK for severe rashes requiring medical treatment. P&G maintain there is nothing harmful in the product.
The news is a triumph for the 59 parents whose children developed oozing blisters and severe rashes after using nappies with Dry Max technology, which was introduced in March 2010.
Together with the payout, Proctor & Gamble has also made the decision to drop Dry Max branding from its US products and revamp the affected nappies. Since the same technology is also used in Pampers’ UK products, what does the decision mean for British parents?
The first thing to note is that despite the US developments, Proctor & Gamble is so far taking no action in the UK. However, just like their US counterparts, UK parents have long expressed their disquiet with nappies containing Dry Max, In fact, we believe there may have been thousands of formal complaints from UK parents, while thousands more mums and dads are likely to have seen an adverse reaction from their children to Dry Max, but not taken that next step of contacting Proctor & Gamble to make a formal complaint.
The topic has also been discussed at length on parenting websites such as Mumsnet and Netmums, as well as UK Facebook groups being set up, calling for Dry Max to be removed from sale.
With such strength of feeling and mounting evidence from the US, mass legal action in the UK is now looking a real possibility.
I myself have already submitted a formal claim on behalf of an affected family and have received requests to advise other parents experiencing the same symptoms, whilst I continue to research the background to the US litigation.
Taking on large corporations such as Proctor & Gamble, needs many claimants to band together. Group litigation can be a very powerful tool, as is perfectly demonstrated by our work on ‘toxic sofas’ which resulted in what is believed to be the largest consumer group litigation in UK legal history.Of course, for parents with babies who believe their children have suffered after using a Dry Max nappy, it is not about the money. It’s about holding huge companies like Proctor & Gamble to account and making sure their products are safe.
Richard Langton is Managing Partner of the Birmingham office and head of the Serious Injury Group at Slater and Gordon Lawyers. If you believe your child has been affected by nappies using Dry Max technology please get in touch with Richard by calling 0121 233 8300.