30 Oct 2010

Thalidomide victims take legal action

8:01 am on 30 October 2010

New Zealand and Australian thalidomide victims are suing the German drug company that developed and marketed the drug.

The drug, prescribed in the 1950s and 1960s to cure morning sickness, resulted in babies being born with severe limb deformities.

Five plaintiffs have launched a class action in Victoria against Grunenthal GmbH on behalf of survivors born in Australia and New Zealand between 1955 and 1964.

In a writ filed in the state's Supreme Court, the victims say the company did not adequately test the drug, and knew there was a suggested link between it and a range of adverse health effects five years before thalidomide was withdrawn from sale.

The drug was made available in Australia and New Zealand by Distillers Company Ltd from 1958.

The latest legal action follows a financial settlement earlier this year between the 45 surviving victims and drug company Diageo, the successor to The Distillers Company.