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Australian thalidomide victims share class action victory

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Australian thalidomide victims share class action victory


A class action over birth defects by more than 100 victims of thalidomide has been settled for 89 million Australian dollars (60 million euros) by the British distributor Diageo Scotland Ltd.

The Australians and New Zealanders were born with disabilities after their mothers used the drug during pregnancy about 50 years ago.

The victims’ lawyer Peter Gordon told the Victoria State Supreme Court that the settlement, which is subject to court approval, brought to an end a long battle for compensation.

He said it was “the worst pharmaceutical disaster in the history of the world.”

“The real dimensions of the Thalidomide disaster have been vastly under-rated, under-reported and under-estimated. In particular, the number of people affected by it has been vastly in excess of what the public has come to know. And not just in Australia, not just in New Zealand but in every country where it was available and distributed,” said Gordon.

Thalidomide was a sedative prescribed in the 1950s and ’60s for morning sickness. Thousands of babies whose mothers used it were born with abnormally short limbs, often without arms, legs or hips.

Diageo paid about 28 million pounds (34 million euros) to thalidomide victims in the 1970s.

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