Statement: Government money for thalidomide survivors

15 January 2010

In an oral statement Mike O'Brien, Minister for Health Services, announced financial help of £20 million for thalidomide survivors, and told the Commons that the Government wished to express its sincere regret and deep sympathy for the injury and suffering endured by all those affected.

Pregnant women were prescribed the drug, thalidomide, in the 1950s and 1960s as a treatment for morning sickness or insomnia. It was withdrawn from sale in the UK in 1961 after babies were born with limb deformities and other damage.

It is not known exactly how many worldwide victims of the drug there have been, although estimates range from 10,000 to 20,000.

The drug's UK manufacturer, Distillers Biochemicals, paid around £28 million compensation in the 1970s following a legal battle by the families of those affected.

Oral statements are made at the end of Question Time - or at 11am on a Friday. The statements usually relate to matters of policy or particular government actions. At the end of a statement, MPs can respond or question the government minister on its contents.

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