Eight Britons have launched a legal action against the manufacturers and distributors of the drug Thalidomide, after claims the drug caused them serious disability, reports the BBC.
Thalidomide was offered as a drug to mothers suffering from morning sickness in the 1950s and 1960s. It subsequently transpired that the drug was severely teratogenic, causing significant physical disabilities in the children of the mothers who were given the medication.
Babies born to mothers who had taken Thalidomide were born with limb defects, damaged eyes and ears and poorly developed internal organs.
The medication in question was manufactured by pharmaceutical firm Grunenthal, and was distributed by the firm Distillers, which is now owned by drinks giant Diageo.
Lawyers representing the eight victims say that the drug company and distributor have always claimed that the problems with the drug were ‘unavoidable’ and that they acted properly at the time.
“Both companies knew their drug was causing severe nerve damage and both were explicitly warned of the possibility Thalidomide might cause severe malformations. Yet the drug was left on the market for many months afterwards,” said Fraser Whitehead, a lawyer at Slater and Gordon, representing the eight claimants.
A spokesman for Grunenthal said they were awaiting the details of the claims before commenting.
Diageo said they had a good track record of paying out for injuries caused by Thalidomide. Last year they paid £49m to more than 100 Australians affected by Thalidomide.
Although the drug was withdrawn from distribution in 1961, 10,000 babies worldwide were born with defects as a result of the use of the drug.
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