After 50 years the many victims of thalidomide (people who were exposed to the drug in utero and suffered major deformations as a result) have finally gotten the public apology they have deserved for many years. The announcement which included the 20-million-pound package was welcomed by many victims, although some were still upset that it had taken so long and others said the wording didn’t seem as if it were a true apology.
466 survivors of the drug (which was marketed as a morning sickness treatment during pregnancy) are eligible for support.
“I know many thalidomiders have waited a long time for this,” Health Minister Mike O’Brien told the House of Commons, using the term for victims of the drug at the end of the 1950s.”The government wishes to express its sincere regret and deep sympathy for the injury and suffering endured by all those affected when expectant mothers took the drug thalidomide between 1958 and 1961.We acknowledge both the physical hardship and the emotional difficulties that have faced both the children affected and their families as a result of this drug and the challenges that many continue to endure, often on a daily basis.”
Thalidomide was banned in 1961 when the effects of the drug (these included limbs, brain damage and other problems) on infants were made public by various media outlets of the era.
Thalidomide campaigner Guy Tweedy described the government apology as “absolutely wonderful”.”I’m highly delighted and so glad that it actually came, 50 years too late, but never mind. It’s an apology not just to thalidomide victims but to the parents and parents who lost their children in the early days.”
Distillers Biochemicals who made the drug paid some 28 million pounds in compensation in the 1970s after a legal battle by the victim’s families. There are roughly 12,000 thalidomide survivors worldwide, according to Thalidomide UK. The first thalidomide victim was born in Germany.