Germany to allow new thalidomide claims

Thalidomide victims once snubbed by the German government are being offered compensation for birth defects caused by the drug, officials say.

The German family ministry has announced it will temporarily waive a 26-year-old ban on considering thalidomide relief claims from foreign countries until the end of 2010, thus enabling victims from around the world to collect damages on the drug formerly made by the German company Grunenthal, The Sunday Times of London reported.

Germany since 1983 has rejected at least 100 thalidomide claims for being "out of time," since Grunenthal stopped making the morning sickness drug in the 1960s when it was found to cause birth defects. But a campaign by thalidomide survivors and The Sunday Times succeeded in persuading Germany to temporarily accept new claims, the newspaper said.

Some mothers who took the drug while pregnant gave birth to children with stunted or missing limbs. The lifting of the ban will potentially allow claims from countries such as Austria and Italy, where there is no thalidomide compensation available, the newspaper said.

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