News Feature | February 18, 2014

Thalidomide Distributor Settles With Victims For $89 Million

Source: Pharmaceutical Online

By Estel Grace Masangkay

The drug thalidomide has been scientifically linked to severe and life changing birth defects in children whose mothers had taken the drug. The most noticeable birth defects caused by thalidomide are children born with missing or shortened limbs. The drug was originally put on the market in Australia in the early 1960s to combat morning sickness, but was withdrawn in 1961. A lawsuit filed by the more than 100 Australians and New Zealanders with birth defects caused by thalidomide has ended with an $89 million settlement. The settlement was approved by the Victorian Supreme Court.

The attorney representing the victims, Michael Magazanik, released the following statement after the end of the legal proceedings, “

The lawsuit’s settlement implicated thalidomide distributor Diageo, but not thalidomide manufacturer Grunenthal. Grunenthal made an apology to the victims of thalidomide in the fall of 2013, but they also made it clear that they would be fighting any legal proceedings or requests for compensation. Thalidomide survivors and their families have been heavily critical of Grunenthal throughout the process.

“We had to get up and face each day, every day, and cope with the incredible damage that Grunenthal caused to Lynne and our family,” said Wendy Rowe, whose child Lynette is a thalidomide survivor.

Another thalidomide survivor, Barry de Geest, echoed the sentiments. "For us the money is great but it would have been nice to actually have justice from the drug company that caused all the problems, but life goes on."