Call for EU-wide support for Thalidomide victims

10-Mar-2016 @ 1:0

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Conservative MEPs are supporting calls for the creation of a framework to ensure Thalidomide victims across the EU receive similar levels of compensation.

At present support varies considerably between Member States but as victims grow older their health needs are becoming more complex and MEPs have agreed to press the European Commission (EC) to adopt a common approach.

Conservative Environment, Public Health and Food Safety spokesman Julie Girling MEP signed an oral question asking the EC to detail its position. She said: "We have been saying for a long time that this is a European issue. The EU has a public health function and we should be looking at how we can help victims.

"We owe it to the thousands of people whose lives have been blighted by Thalidomide to ensure they can live with dignity. They are not asking for luxury, they are not asking for anything you or I haven't got, they just want the support they require to live as normal and productive a life as possible.

"In 2010 the UK Government paid £80 million into a fund to supplement compensation being paid by Diageo, which took over the Distillers Company , the distributor of Thalidomide in Britain. But that is not happening in other places such as Spain, where the situation is much more difficult, and we want to show solidarity with victims in those countries."

Thalidomide was developed by the German company Gruenenthal and Mrs Girling, MEP for South West England and Gibraltar, urged the German Government to respond to campaigners' demands to provide millions of pounds in compensation.

"I hope the German Government will see the significance politically of this move by the European Parliament," she said. "It's about putting pressure on them morally to take this step."

Thalidomide was prescribed to expectant mothers from 1958 until the early 1960s to combat morning sickness but led to serious birth defects. Worldwide 80,000 babies died and 20,000 were maimed.

There are at least 467 surviving victims in the UK, with around 40 per cent no longer able to work due to their worsening medical conditions.

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