Text size

Nine families whose children suffered brain damage after being fed Remedia, the vitamin deficient soy-based milk substitute, will be paid NIS 1 million as part of an agreement with the company.

The Remedia affair, in which two babies died and others were left with irreversible damage to the nervous system after being fed with the company's infant formula, erupted last November. Tests revealed that the German-made food was completely devoid of vitamin B-1 despite it being listed with the ingredients stamped on the formula's aluminum canister. Serious lack of B-1, also known as thiamine, had caused the soy-fed babies to develop a form of beriberi disease.

Remedia said the payment was not an admission of liability or responsibility but was being paid to ease the suffering of the families, although there is no certain proof all the infants were harmed by the product.

The families lawyer Zvi Yelinik said the compensation was an "advance payment on expenses" and added that four children of his clients remain hospitalized.

Yelinik said negotiations between Remedia and the families started six weeks ago and "because of the sad affair, in which children were seriously harmed, we took unusual measures. Ordinarily, in cases like this, there are no advance payments."

He said the nine families have not yet filed suit against Remedia yet because the extent of the harm caused to the children has not yet been determined. Children harmed by the Remedia formula who have already been released from hospital continue to suffer from hearing, vision, nervous system and other health problems, Yelinik said.

A Remedia statement said: "We are not taking responsibility for guilt and liability, but rather for the treatment of the suffering families." Remedia's lawyer Ehud Saul said: "Even if it does become clear the infants - some or all of them - were not harmed by consumption of the product, we will not demand the return of the payments."

He said the payments, made for humanitarian reasons, were intended to allow medical experts to determine whether the infants were harmed by the product imported from Humana by Remedia."