Thalidomide survivors warned about legal action
Irish survivors of thalidomide have been warned their decision to take legal action against the drug’s manufacturer could cost them financially.
A number of survivors say they have received letters from the Contergan foundation in Germany threatening to terminate monthly payments unless the proceedings are dropped.
The sums currently paid by the foundation are nominal but last Friday it announced it would disburse an additional €120 million annually to German citizens affected by the drug. Survivors in the UK and Australia have also been granted increased entitlements.
There are hopes among some Irish survivors that they could also benefit from this fund. In 2010, survivors rejected an offer by the Government of a once-off €62,500 payment.
The Irish Thalidomide Association called this weekend on Minster for Health James Reilly to honour commitments made in the programme for government to provide long-term health care and support.
It said previously agreed compensation payments were not formally approved by the High Court and were unenforceable.
“All of us have reached our 50th birthdays, our health is deteriorating,” it said in a statement. “We have cardiovascular problems and our deformed limbs are wearing out. While other countries have recognised the special care needs of thalidomide survivors the Irish Government has failed to provide adequate healthcare and recompense for us.”
Thalidomide was given to pregnant women in the 1950s and 1960s to help counteract the effects of morning sickness. In some cases it caused deformities in developing foetuses.