Page last updated at 13:41 GMT, Thursday, 3 April 2008 14:41 UK

'We deserve a thalidomide sorry'

People are gathering in London for a rally to mark the 50th anniversary of the drug thalidomide being marketed in the UK.

BBC Scotland reporter Phil Goodlad has been to visit one Scottish man living with the effects of the drug.


Steve Sinclair
Steve Sinclair is campaigning for the drug to be banned across the world

"Words are cheap. Actions speak much louder."

For Steve Sinclair that's something of a mantra.

Born without a leg and wheelchair-bound through osteoporosis, 47-year-old Steve, from Motherwell in North Lanarkshire, is one of 66 people in Scotland living with the effects of thalidomide.

The drug went on the market 50 years ago this month, spelling one of modern medicine's blackest chapters.

Not tested sufficiently, it was prescribed to women suffering chronic morning sickness. The result was 100,000 miscarriages and 10,000 babies born with deformities.

"My mum was prescribed three thalidomide tablets. Just three," said Steve.

"The tragedy is she too lives with the effects of that drug. No parent wants to harm their child but she feels guilty every time she sees me for innocently taking a pill that caused me so much damage."

Meeting Steve is a pleasure. He is crippled by pain and unable to work, but Steve doesn't 'do' bitter. Instead he channels his energies and anger into getting things done.

Sorry, that's what I'd like to hear. Nobody has yet stood in front of me and said that - it's such a small word and is easily said
Steve Sinclair

"When thalidomide was recalled in 1961 the fight began for compensation for those affected by it. While we've come a long way there is still much to do."

Thursday's rally in London is part of that. It is calling for better compensation for thalidomiders and for the drug to be banned throughout the world.

"In some African and South American countries different brands of the drug are prescribed to pregnant women for a variety of conditions.

"Fifty years after it was banned here, babies are still being born in the world with deformities from thalidomide. It's a disgrace."

But that's only half the battle for Steve and Scotland's other thalidomiders. They are focused on getting something that, to Steve, is worth more than any pay-out.

"Sorry. That's what I'd like to hear. Nobody has yet stood in front of me and said that. It's such a small word and is easily said. But said with true meaning, real meaning would be a major step forward for us."

Perhaps Thursday's rally in London could be a step towards Steve's goal.



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