A Yorkshire Thalidomide campaigner is hopeful that an unprecedented third meeting with a senior EU official in Brussels this week (Thursday, July 17) is the beginning of the end of his long-running fight for compensation.
Guy Tweedy and fellow “survivors” are seeking Health Commissioner Tonio Borg’s support in brokering a meeting between themselves and the German Government, which they say was complicit in the Thalidomide scandal.
Developed and manufactured by German pharmaceutical giant, Chemie Grunthal, 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However, in May 1962 the drug was withdrawn after it was linked to crippling side effects in new born babies.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.
A researcher working for the Thalidomide National Advisory Council (NAC) – who represent the UK’s remaining 469 survivors – has uncovered damning evidence which reveals the German Government knew about problems associated with the drug a number of years before it was withdrawn in the UK.
It also reveals that, in 1957, SmithKline French passed the West German Government results of tests which showed a clear link with Thalidomide and deformities in unborn babies.
Despite this shocking evidence, which did not come to light at the time, the drug continued to be prescribed in the UK for another five years.
Mr Tweedy, 52, said: Being granted a third audience with Mr Borg is unprecedented and this makes us extremely hopeful that our lengthy fight for justice is almost at an end.
He has listened to us, asked questions of us and and carefully considered our argument – namely that the German Government must compensate UK Thalidomide survivors.
Mr Borg asked for documentary proof and the evidence we have unearthed clearly shows the German Government – which has always denied any responsibility – knew that early tests had revealed links between Thalidomide and birth defects.
Mr Tweedy, who was born with shortened arms and fingers fused together, added: It has been a long, hard fight to get this far and we are of the opinion the end is in sight.
However, we won’t stop until the German Government owns up to its part in this scandal – one that as survivors we have had to live with the consequences of for more than 50 years.