show your hand logoThe late Alf Morris would have welcomed MEP Phil Bennion’s co-sponsorship of a Written Declaration (similar to an Early Day Motion in the UK Parliament) in the European Parliament calling for action to highlight the plight of thousands of people across Europe born with severe disabilities and life-shortening conditions caused by the drug. He has pledged his support for the ‘Show Your Hand’ Campaign for Thalidomide sufferers

Thalidomide was widely used to combat nausea during the 1950s and 1960s by pregnant women and has since left many children and adults with debilitating disabilities and illnesses. The Thalidomide tragedy has been described as the worst drugs scandal of all time.

Lord  Morris attended school with Harold Evans – later editor of the Sunday Times – and like him later did sterling work campaigning for these whose mothers had taken thalidomide. In 2009 he said: “What is morally wrong ought not to be legally permissible. People who have been grievously disabled for years have been given a thimbleful of practical help.”

The MEPs want the European Commission to put pressure on Grunenthal, the manufacturer of Thalidomide, to pay proper compensation to survivors, many of whose families are struggling to pay for the intensive support and care they need, which is not always fully funded by care or health services in member states. Dr Bennion has twice previously written to the pharmaceutical giant to seek justice and appropriate compensation and to the European Health Commissioner, Tonio Borg, to seek his intervention and possible mediation in the dispute.

Phil Bennion said: “I know that many survivors and their descendants are still trying to deal with the ramifications of Thalidomide to this day. I have written to Grunenthal twice now and received a reply stating that the company ‘realises its moral responsibilities’ and has its own recently established Grunenthal Foundation to provide individual benefits in kind to support ‘injured parties.’

“I welcome this progress as far as it goes but much more needs to be done, in particular for those living in the UK. That is why I have teamed up with MEPs in several different parties to highlight the scandal in the European Parliament and press the Commission to take action.”

According to the Thalidomide Trust there are currently 455 Thalidomide survivors alive in the UK coping with disabilities ranging from missing limbs to serious internal deformities.

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