Thalidomide campaigners target Harrogate medical conference

2 October 2013

Thalidomide campaigners will be demonstrating in Harrogate this Thursday and Friday (3 October 2013 and 4 October 2013) as part of their on-going campaign against the German firm which manufactured the drug.

Victims of Thalidomide – made by Grunenthal – will be urging delegates at the annual Royal College of General Practitioners conference at the town’s International Centre to back their fight for justice.

The demonstration is part of the Show Your Hands campaign, and comes a day after Thalidomiders deposited scored of mannequins’ limbs on the steps of the German Embassy in London.

Guy Tweedy, a leading Thalidomide campaigner from Harrogate, said:

Grunenthal has never paid a single penny of compensation to victims in Australia, Sweden, Canada and the United Kingdom.

What we are asking from members of the medical professions is for them to support the Thalidomiders’ need for justice, dignity, real compensation, and a proper apology from Grunthal.

By being in Harrogate on Thursday and Friday we aim to draw their attention to the European Health Minister’s role in bringing about negotiations with Grunenthal to secure a meaningful compensation package for Thalidomiders worldwide.

We have been waiting more than 50 years for Grünenthal to do the right thing. Many doctors are already aware of the ways in which we struggle to prevent our health deteriorating as we age – and so is Grunenthal yet they do nothing.

Mr Tweedy said the Show Your Hand campaign had won the backing of the majority the UK’s MEPs including Yorkshire members Linda McAvan, Edward McMillan-Scott, Rebecca Taylor and Timothy Kirkhope.

Thalidomide, which damaged and killed thousands of babies between the years 1958 and 1963, 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However, in May 1962 the drug was withdrawn after it was linked to crippling side effects in new born babies. At 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. In 1971, the German Government passed a law protecting Grunenthal from anyone taking legal action against it – a piece of legislation that still survives unchallenged.

Details of the Show Your Hand campaign can be found at

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