Malcomson Law Representing the Irish Thalidomide Association. Malcomson Law is representing the members of the Irish Thalidomide Association in their legal action against the Irish state. As already reported in the media, our research on behalf of Thalidomide survivors and access obtained to Department of Health & Children records disclosed that the 1975 compensation arrangement raises significant legal concerns.
The arrangement for Thalidomide survivors was not approved by the High Court which is a necessary requirement to protect children from potentially unfair settlements. It is a mystery why the government’s legal advice at the time, was that the arrangement was not to offer it to the High Court for approval because they believe it would be rejected.
This failure to obtain the approval of the High Court was confirmed by Minister for Health & Children, Mary Harney, subsequent to clarification with the Attorney General. A State Claims Agency report commissioned by the previous Minister for Health, Mary Harney was peculiarly silent on this particular issue. Ironically, the report delivered to cabinet for their consideration resulted in the only recent but inadequate proposal from the Irish State to right the wrong that Thalidomide survivors have suffered.
The rationale for failing to seek the original approval of the High Court in 1975 remains a mystery that maybe clarified in future litigation. Thalidomide was withdrawn internationally on the 27th November 1961. Tragically, it was not withdrawn from the Irish market until the latter part of 1962. The consequences of this action were horrendous and resulted in much later birth defect injuries in this country than elsewhere.
It is certainly arguable, that it is unlikely that the Irish High Court would have approved any settlement offer for less than full value, if an application was advanced where it was appreciated that these birth defect injuries occurred after the international withdrawal date for the Thalidomide drug.
We are pleased to be working with a group of people who have shown immense courage in the face of dreadful adversity. We will be representing them in their fight to achieve their legitimate entitlements though we are precluded from making any other comments upon the issue once the litigation process commences.
What is Thalidomide?
Thalidomide was produced by the German pharmaceutical company Chemie Grunenthal in 1957. It was subsequently licensed for prescription by the Irish Government in 1959 and was prescribed as a sedative to expectant mothers to treat morning sickness and insomnia. Notably, Thalidomide was not licensed in other jurisdictions such as France or the United States.
After the drug came onto the market, a number of children were born with birth deformities including shortened limbs or in some cases no limbs, internal organ damage, deafness, nerve damage and numerous other complications, many women miscarried or babies dies at birth. Such incidents were later attributed to the use of Thalidomide and the drug was withdrawn from the market in 1961.
However, the withdrawal of the drug was not publicised effectively as it was considered that it would cause concern to pregnant women who had already taken Thalidomide. Therefore, in some areas in Ireland, Thalidomide remained on the market for several months after the Irish Government became aware of the dangers associated with the use of Thalidomide.
If you have any queries in relation to issues raised in this article please email us at Thalidomide Enquiry or phone 01 8744 422.