Page last updated at 17:20 GMT, Tuesday, 9 February 2010

1.1m for thalidomide sufferers

When taken during pregnancy thalidomide caused limb deformities
When taken during pregnancy thalidomide caused limb deformities

Eighteen thalidomide survivors from Northern Ireland are to share £1.1m of government compensation.

Thalidomide was a drug given to pregnant women to combat common symptoms of early pregnancy.

It was withdrawn from use in the early 1960s when it was discovered that it was responsible for producing harmful effects to the foetus.

Health Minister Michael McGimpsey has said £1.1m will be made available to sufferers in NI.

The effects of thalidomide, which could develop after a single dose, involved mainly malformation of the limbs and defects of the ears, eyes and internal organs.

The money will be made available to the Thalidomide Trust, which was established in 1973 to provide support to those born with disabilities because their mothers had taken the drug.

"I fully support the principle of meeting the health needs for any patient who has suffered ill health through using medicines which, unknown to them, carried unacceptable safety risks," said Mr McGimpsey.

"My officials will undertake discussions with the Trust to agree how a personalised way of meeting these needs can be best achieved.

"I am sincerely sorry for the injury and suffering endured by those affected when expectant mothers took the thalidomide drug between 1958 and 1961."

Paul Anderson, a thalidomide survivor from Northern Ireland welcomed the move.

"It will make a significant difference to the lives of Thalidomiders," he said.

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