19 Jul 2012

Way open for more thalidomide compensation

4:01 pm on 19 July 2012

The lawyer for a thalidomide victim who's won a compensation claim in Australia says it opens the door for other Australians and New Zealanders who previously missed out on compensation.

Lynette Rowe, 50, of Melbourne, was born without arms and legs after her mother was prescribed the drug to treat morning sickness and anxiety during her pregnancy.

The announcement of a settlement was made in the Victorian Supreme Court on Wednesday after Ms Rowe took legal action in 2010 against Grunenthal, a German drug company, along with the Distillers company and Diageo PLC of Britain, which were responsible for marketing thalidomide in Australia.

The amount is confidential. The decision means Ms Rowe will get compensation and be provided with care for the rest of her life.

Diageo PLC bought Distillers, which was licenced to sell the drugs in Australia and New Zealand in the 1960s, in 1997.

The company has also agreed to negotiate compensation for 100 other people affected by the drug who were part of the class action. The deadline is October.

Many more are expected to come forward to make claims against the company.

Ms Rowe's lawyer, Michael Magazaniksays 15 New Zealanders have joined the class action so far.

Mr Magazanik says it's disappointing that Grunenthal is refusing to be part of the settlement.

Diageo director Ian Wright says the company wants to be fair to everyone injured by the drug.