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Monday, 14 February, 2000, 08:46 GMT
Thalidomide victims want more cash

Thalidomide children Thalidomide caused severe disabilities

People born disabled after their mothers took the drug Thalidomide are calling for more cash to compensate them for their disabilities.

The pressure group Thalidomide wants more money to be pumped into a trust fund set up to help those who have suffered.

The group has warned that a 1.5% below inflation increase on annual payments this year from the Thalidomide Trust has not been adequate to cover their extra costs.

A lot of Thalidomide victims are dependent on home helps and 24-hour care
Freddie Astbury, chairman, Thalidomide UK
Freddie Astbury, chairman of Thalidomide UK, said: "I am one of the lucky ones in that I am married. But a lot of Thalidomide victims are dependent on home helps and 24-hour care.

"It is not cheap being disabled - you have to pay even for the simplest task such as changing a light bulb because you cannot do it yourself."

There are thought to be 456 surviving Thalidomide victims currently living in the UK with disabilities ranging from minor to severe defects.

The drug was marketed in the 1950s and 1960s as a cure for morning sickness but was banned after mothers who took it gave birth to an estimated 12,000 deformed children world-wide.

The trust fund was set up in 1973 by Distillers - whose subsidiary made Thalidomide.

It makes discretionary payments to Thalidomide victims after assessment of their disabilities.

In 1995, Guinness, who took over Distillers, announced that it would put an extra 37.5 million into the trust over the next 15 years to keep the charity afloat.

Members of Thalidomide UK called for an extra 52.5m over a 20-year period.

They were due to meet representatives of Diageo, the food and drinks group formed by the merger of Guinness and Grand Metropolitan, on Thursday, for talks about the fund.

No-one at the company was available to comment.

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See also:
02 Nov 99 |  Health
Thalidomide victims plan legal action
18 Nov 99 |  Health
Thalidomide hailed as treatment for cancer
28 Oct 98 |  Health
Thalidomide returns to the UK

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