If you have a disability which you think was caused by the drug thalidomide, there are things you can do to try to get financial compensation for your injury.

Where the money comes from

Thalidomide was sold in the UK, under the brand name Distaval, by Distillers (Biochemicals) Ltd.   The drug was withdrawn in 1961 and the first private compensation settlements were made by Distillers in 1968.

Five years later, the Thalidomide Trust was set up to administer additional payments made by Distillers and the UK Government to provide for the needs of all those children whose impairments were agreed to have been caused by thalidomide and were otherwise eligible (see conditions below). The majority of children affected would have been born between the years 1958 and 1962.

After a series of mergers and takeovers, the moral responsibility for ongoing payments to the Thalidomide Trust lies with Diageo plc, which has promised to continue making payments until 2022.

Making a claim

Before someone can apply for compensation for thalidomide injury, at least one of the following conditions must be met:

  • they were born in the United Kingdom
  • their mother took the drug in the United Kingdom during pregnancy
  • their mother took the drug during pregnancy and on 22nd February, 1973 living permanently in the United Kingdom, Channel Islands, Kenya, Republic of South Africa, Canada, Cyprus, Jamaica or the Republic of Ireland

It’s also necessary that the trustees of the Thalidomide Trust are of the opinion that the person suffers from a congenital disability as a result of their mother having taken thalidomide during pregnancy. This may involve the person having to undergo a medical assessment at some time.  If you think that your impairment was caused by the effects of the drug and you were born between the years of 1959 and 1961 you should contact the Thalidomide Trust directly.  It will help to provide a photograph of the affected limbs and to let the Trust know if your mother is still alive and whether her medical records are available.

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