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Thalidomide settlement to offer life-long care for Australian victims

Dec. 2, 2013 at 9:51 AM

CANBERRA, Australia, Dec. 2 (UPI) -- Thalidomide victims in Australia and New Zealand will receive life-long care after settlement of a class-action suit with the drug's distributor, officials say.

The $89 million settlement will provide compensation and care to about 100 Thalidomide victims, the Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported Monday.

The drug, developed by the German firm Grunenthal in 1954 as an anti-nausea drug for pregnant women, was marketed in Australia by the Distillers Co., which is owned by the British firm Diageo.

Ian Wright, a spokesman for Diageo, said the company hoped the settlement would provide "some degree of hope and comfort" for people affected by the drug.

The drug has been held responsible for more than 10,000 babies around the world being born with deformities.

A lawsuit against Grunenthal will now be abandoned, said attorney Michael Magazanik, one of the lawyers involved in the Diageo suit.

Monica McGhie, 50, who was born without limbs, welcomed the settlement, which she said meant she "can look to the future with more confidence, knowing I can afford the support and care I need."

"I never thought this day would come," she added.

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