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MEPs call for better access to compensation for Thalidomide victims

PLENARY SESSION Press release - Public health − 15-12-2016 - 13:13

Over fifty years after the Thalidomide tragedy, in which a German-made morning sickness

medicine for pregnant women caused malformations in their babies in several EU countries,

victims are still fighting for fair compensation. MEPs call on the EU and its member states to

ensure that all EU citizens affected have access to similar compensation, in a resolution voted on


MEPs urge the EU member states and Commission to coordinate actions and measures to

recognise and provide compensation to Thalidomide survivors, in a non-binding resolution passed

by a show of hands.

The German Federal Government should allow victims access to the Special Health Fund set up in

Germany, as the country bears a particular responsibility, they say.

They ask that thalidomide survivors from the UK, Spain, Italy, Sweden and other member states be

admitted to the scheme on a group basis, provided that their status as Thalidomide-affected

individuals has been accepted as bona fide in their own countries.

The EU Commission should create a framework protocol at EU level, under which all EU citizens

affected by Thalidomide would receive similar amounts of compensation, and draw up an EU

programme of assistance and support to victims and their families, say MEPs.

Independently-verified research shows that in 1970, the German Federal Republic interfered with

the criminal proceedings against Chemie Grünenthal GmbH, the German manufacturer of

Thalidomide, and, as a result, no proper determination of the manufacturer’s guilt could be

established. Moreover, steps were taken to prevent civil proceedings against this company, say


MEPs also ask the Spanish authorities to review the process started by the government in 2010

and facilitate the proper identification and compensation of Thalidomide survivors.

Note to editors

Thalidomide was marketed in the late 1950s and early 1960s as a safe drug to treat morning

sickness, headaches, coughs, insomnia and the common cold. It resulted in the death and

malformation of thousands of babies when taken by pregnant women in many European countries.

Independently verified documents from the time of the scandal show that there was a major lack of

effective pharmaceutical surveillance in the Federal Republic of Germany, unlike in other countries

such as the USA, France, Portugal and Turkey.

Procedure: non-legislative resolution

REF. : 20161208IPR55202