The first trial has opened in Spain against the German producers of the drug thalidomide which caused children to be born with severe abnormalities more than 50 years ago.
Thousands of children in Europe, Australia, Canada and Japan were affected after their mothers were prescribed the drug during pregnancy.
Around 180 Spaniards are seeking a total of 204 million euros in damages.
They have never received compensation and Avite, an association for the victims, says it took half a century for their plight to be officially recognised.
“In my case my mother is very sad because of what happened and she keeps it all in and doesn’t want to talk about it, so today could be a great day for her. Actually, having arrived at this point, I don’t know what is going to happen. But I hope for justice, justice for all,” said Josefina Mompeo, who suffered deformities after her mother took the drug.
Its manufacturer Grünenthal apologised for the first time last year, but doesn’t accept liability.
The pharmaceutical group has argued that it acted in accordance with scientific knowledge at a time when tests could not detect thalidomide’s harmful effects.
Thalidomide was withdrawn from the market at the end of 1961 in Britain and Germany but Avite claims it took several more months before it was banned in Spain.
In Britain the drug’s distributors Distillers agreed to pay compensation but Grünenthal never accepted liability.
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