The CPS has recently announced that it will charge ITH Pharma over contaminated baby feed that led to the deaths of three babies. Senior Associate Arti Shah is representing one of the families involved.
The parents of Yousef Al-Kharboush who died, they believe, after receiving the contaminated feed at St Thomas' hospital in central London acknowledged that progress has finally been made in the case, but said that the past four-and-a-half years waiting to hear from the company has exacerbated the grief of losing their son.
Twins Yousef and Abdulilah were born at St Thomas' hospital in May 2014 by emergency caesarean at 32 weeks and received what is known as 'parental nutrition' through an intravenous drip in intensive care.
Nine days later, on 1 June 2014, Yousef died from septicaemia caused by the feed being contaminated with the lethal bug, Bacillus cereus. His brother was not affected.
"It has been like living with an open wound that will not close. We have found it impossible to move on while the case is ongoing, I am not sure that we will ever come to terms with what happened," Yousef's father Raaid Sakkijha said. "We never celebrate events such as Yousef's brother's birthday because it is too painful a reminder of what we've lost.
"My wife had hoped that Ms Hamling, CEO of ITH Pharma and a mother herself, might have understood the terrible pain of grieving parents compounded by unanswered questions regarding their son's wrongful death, but we heard nothing from her.
"We realise that once the case is closed, it will not bring back Yousef. But we trust this charge will help avoid similar mistakes and prevent other families going through the same heartache of losing a beloved child."
Senior Associate Arti Shah, representing the family in an ongoing civil case against ITH Pharma, said: "It has been incredibly hard for Yousef's parents to have to wait so long for a charging decision while the company has simply been allowed to continue to trade. Their lives have been devastated.
"23 babies were affected, three of whom died. Yousef's family has suffered the worst grief imaginable, knowing that his death was avoidable. Four-and-a-half years later, they are still waiting for an apology."
The CPS said that ITH Pharma Ltd has been charged with seven counts of supplying a medicinal product which was not of the nature or quality specified in the prescription.
It was also charged with failing to take all reasonably practicable steps to ensure that patients were not infected by contaminants, in breach of the Health and Safety at Work Act.
Officers from the Met’s Homicide and Major Crime Command began an investigation in 2014 after an outbreak of a bacterial infection that affected babies receiving Total Parental Nutrition (TPN) prepared by ITH Pharma.
They will appear at Westminster Magistrates Court on 17 December.
Image credit: Soham Banerjee [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons