LONDON (AP) - The British government apologized Thursday to
people who were harmed in the womb when their mothers took the
anti-nausea drug Thalidomide.
Health Minister Mike O'Brien told lawmakers the government
expresses its "sincere regret and deep sympathy for the injury and
suffering endured by all those affected when expectant mothers took
the drug thalidomide between 1958 and 1961."
The government recently agreed to give 20 million pounds ($33
million) to help Thalidomide victims in Britain deal with their
Nicholas Dobrik, who works for the Thalidomide Trust- a charity
that helps those affected by the drug - said it was the first time
the British government has apologized. There are 466 affected
people still living in the UK.
About 2,000 babies were born between 1959 and 1962 with
Thalidomide-related defects, but most died within a year of being
born, he said.
"I've had letters from parents of babies who died at the time,
saying this apology means a great deal to them as well," Dobrik
Thalidomide was given to some pregnant women in Europe and
Canada until it was found to be causing a range of birth defects
including missing or shortened limbs. Many countries - including
the U.S. - did not approve the use of Thalidomide at the time,
though it is now occasionally used for treating multiple myeloma, a
rare blood cancer.
The money given by the British government will be administered
through the Thalidomide Trust.