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Extra support for thalidomide survivors

A new compensation package for those affected by thalidomide has been unveiled by health minister, Mike O'Brien

A new compensation package for those affected by pregnancy drug, thalidomide has been unveiled by health minister, Mike O'Brien.

The drug was used between 1958 and 1961 to help control symptoms of morning sickness in expectant mothers. It was later withdrawn in 1961 after babies were born with severe physical disabilities.

Along with news of the compensation, O'Brien also offered an official apology, saying: "The Government wishes to express its deep sympathy for the injury and suffering endured by all those affected."

The scheme itself will be operated by the Thalidomide Trust, who offer support and assistance to the 466 current survivors of thalidomide.

They will be in control of a "£20m, three-year pilot scheme to meet health needs of thalidomide survivors in a more personalised way," according to O'Brien, with funding coming from existing departmental central contingency budgets.

With survivors now approaching 50, O'Brien also reported back on the National Advisory Council to the Thalidomide Trust's concerns about "the continuing and increasing health needs of Thalidomiders as they approach older age."

He said: "This additional funding will help to meet their complex and highly specialised needs, and to reduce further degeneration in their health."

14th January 2010

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