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Legal action to begin against Thalidomide manufacturer by alleged victims of the drug

Legal action to be launched against Thalidomide manufacturers for those allegedly injured by the drug who don't fit the 'Thalidomide template'.

Martyn Day

10 June 2014

Law firm Leigh Day is preparing to issue legal proceedings against Grunenthal, the German manufacturer of the morning-sickness drug Thalidomide on behalf of a group of individuals all of whom allege that their injuries were caused by the drug.

Action is also being taken against drinks firm Diageo, the company that now represents the legal liabilities of the original UK distributor, Distillers Limited.

All the individuals allege that their legal claims have in the past been ignored or rejected by experts on the basis that their injuries do not fit the accepted ‘Thalidomide template’, which prescribes what a Thalidomide injury should look like.

New evidence produced by leading researchers, indicates that the original pattern of injuries with which Thalidomide has been associated has been too narrowly drawn.

Leigh Day claim that the original Thalidomide template, devised between 1958 and 1962, when an unprecedented number of children with congenital injuries were born after their mothers had taken the drug, was hastily drawn up and excluded many children who were born with congenital injuries after their mothers took Thalidomide during their pregnancies.

These children were refused recognition as ‘Thalidomide children’ on the basis of what they argue is an outdated diagnostic template.

In 1973 the Thalidomide Trust was set up in the UK to help individuals who suffer congenital disabilities caused by Thalidomide, the Trust has been hugely significant in providing funds and advice to its beneficiaries, but those refused admission to the Trust on account of the ‘template’ have been forced to make the most of their lives, despite their injuries.

David Pemberton, (55) from Chesterfield was born with bilateral club feet and a rare eye condition. He has worked throughout his life despite his physical injuries.

His application to the Thalidomide Trust in 2009 was refused, and his condition has deteriorated to a point where he has now been forced to close his own business and is no longer able to walk without pain and difficulty.

With the help of genetic and medical expert reports, Leigh Day has been working with him to make a fresh application to the Thalidomide Trust, and will shortly issue legal proceedings on his behalf.

Mr Pemberton said:

“I’ve lived a lifetime without any recompense for the injuries I received as a result of Thalidomide. There needs to be recognition of the fact that the injuries caused by this drug are far more widespread than had been previously thought”.

Martyn Day, senior partner at Leigh Day, said:

"All our clients have waited most of their working lives to have their Thalidomide related injuries recognised and diagnosed “It has been 50 years since the devastating effects of this drug were exposed and it was withdrawn, for those injured by Thalidomide it continues to affect every aspect of their lives on a daily basis.

“In bringing this legal action, we want to achieve justice for the individuals whom we represent and ensure that as they enter the next phase of their lives with dignity and financial independence.”

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