8 Feb 2014

Thalidomide payouts approved

12:02 pm on 8 February 2014

Compensation payments of $96 million for New Zealanders and Australians living with birth defects caused by thalidomide have been formally signed off.

During the 1950s and 60s, thousands of babies were born without arms or legs, hearing or eyesight after their pregnant mothers took the drug to alleviate morning sickness.

Thalidomide survivors Lynette Rowe (front) and Monica McGhie leave court.

Thalidomide survivors Lynette Rowe (front) and Monica McGhie leave court. Photo: AAP

More than 100 Australians and New Zealanders took part in a class action which was finalised in the Supreme Court in Victoria on Friday.

A number of victims were in court to witness the formality, including Melbourne woman Lynette Rowe.

She was born with no arms or legs after her mother took the drug to treat morning sickness and anxiety during her pregnancy.

The money will be paid by the drug's distributor Diageo, however the manufacturer, Grunenthal, is not involved.

New Zealand thalidomide victim Barry de Geest said he is relieved compensation isn't far away, but is angry the manufacturer isn't being held accountable.

He said the law firm that led the class action, Slater and Gordon, has dropped legal action against the company because too much time has passed and it can't build a decent case.

Mr de Geest said 21 New Zealand thalidomide victims are included in the payout.