Almost 50 years after thalidomide caused hundreds of severe birth defects in the UK, the Minister for Health has issued an official apology to the victims and offered a £20m support packaget to be administered through the Thalidomide Trust. A UK government agency had a role in approving the drug in 1958 for use in the UK.
There are nearly 500 thalidomide survivors in the UK, who each receive £18,000 per year from the Thalidomide Trust, which administers the compensation provided by thalidomide’s manufacturer.
Thalidoide is a sedative-hypnotic and multiple myeloma drug that causes severe birth defects may result if the drug is taken during pregnancy. Thalidomide was sold worldwide from 1957 until 1961, including in Ireland, with up to 20,000 victims globally.
The Irish government has yet to apologise for allowing thalidomide to be distributed in Ireland.