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02 December 2013

UK Thalidomide victims hope Australian victory leads to swift resolution for them

UK Thalidomide victims hope Australian victory leads to swift resolution for them

United Kingdom thalidomide victims have renewed hope for a swift resolution to their case following a multi-million pound settlement for claimants in Australia and New Zealand.

The $A89 (£50m) settlement of two class actions brought on behalf of Australian and New Zealand thalidomide claimants by Slater & Gordon was announced overnight.

The class actions had been against Grünenthal, the German inventor and manufacturer of thalidomide, and the UK Distillers companies which distributed the drug in Australia.

And while Grünenthal still refuses to assist victims of its catastrophic drug, Diageo (which acquired Distillers in 1986) has agreed to a settlement to assist these Australian and New Zealand thalidomide claimants.

A similar action is intended to run in the UK by Slater & Gordon jointly with Leigh Day against Grünenthal and Diageo on behalf of more than 100 victims of Thalidomide.

Fraser Whitehead, head of Group Litigation at Slater & Gordon UK, said “The settlement in Australia is heartening news for the victims of thalidomide in the UK who have been fighting for justice for years.

“We know there are still many victims of thalidomide in the UK who have never received any compensation for the injuries they suffered as a result of this drug. We hope this latest settlement signals that our case in the UK will now have a swift resolution.

“We welcome the equitable settlement reached with Diageo and hope for a similar outcome in the UK.

“We also call on Grünenthal to face up to its shocking behaviour and compensate UK victims.

“Now that the case in Australia has been resolved we look forward to working with our colleagues there to bring our UK action to a swift resolution.”

Thalidomide damaged unborn children when taken in early pregnancy. The drug was very popular as a sleeping medication, sedative and morning sickness drug in the late 1950s and early 1960s.