A Harrogate Thalidomide victim is to hold talks with the EU Health Commissioner, as he steps up his fight for justice against the German pharmaceutical company which developed the anti-morning sickness drug.
Guy Tweedy and four colleagues – who are representing the UK’s 469 remaining Thalidomiders – have secured a meeting this Friday (January 10) with Antonio Borges, in the hope of brokering a compensation talks with Grunenthal and the German government.
The meeting comes after a concerted lobbying campaign of UK MEPs by leading Thalidomiders, who aim to secure a financial settlement from Grunenthal for UK, Swedish, Canadian and Australian victims of the “wonder drug”.
Mr Tweedy, a 51-year-old businessman from Harrogate, said: Over the last few months we have had a series of meetings with UK MEPs and, thanks to their support of our campaign, we now have a face to face meeting with Mr Borges.
We hope we will be able to persuade him to use his influence to mediate a solution that will lead to us sitting down with representatives of both Grunenthal and the German government, and, ultimately, receiving compensation for the lasting damage their drug has done.
Mr Tweedy – who was born with shortened arms and fingers fused together- added: In 1971, the German government passed a law protecting Grunenthal from anyone taking legal action against it in relation to Thalidomide.
However, the company needs to own up to its responsibilities and help those who have been living with the side effects of Thalidomide for more than 50 years.
In 2007, Mr Tweedy and fellow campaigner Nick Dobrik went to Grunenthal’s headquarters in Stolberg, near Aachen, Germany, and met with a representative of the pharmaceutical company. However, this led to nothing of any consequence.
In 2008, the pair made 38 trips to Germany to help German Thalidomiders with their own compensation campaigns.
As a consequence, the German victims are receiving 123 million Euros a year from the German government.
Thalidomide was administered to pregnant women to combat the effects of morning sickness, however, in May 1962 the drug was withdrawn after it was linked to crippling side effects in new born babies.
A least 2,000 in the UK were born with deformities brought about directly by Thalidomide, and more than half of them died within their first year. An unknown number also died in the womb.