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Originally published May 8 2009

Spanish Thalidomide Babies Still Receive No Compensation from Company or Government

by David Gutierrez, staff writer

(NaturalNews) More than 40 years after the morning sickness drug thalidomide was pulled from the market for causing birth defects, Spanish victims of the drug have yet to receive a cent of compensation from either their government, which approved the drug, or from the company that made and marketed it.

Sold in 46 countries starting in 1957, thalidomide was pulled from markets worldwide when it was found responsible for the births of children without arms and legs, with brain defects, or with other developmental deformities. While some countries withdrew the drug as early as 1961, the last batches were not taken off of Spanish shelves until 1963. And while in many countries, the recall was a major scandal, the fascist government of Francisco Franco covered up the story in Spain, so that many affected children and their mothers never knew that they were victims of the drug.

"Some of the victims are reduced to living on the streets and may not even know what thalidomide is or how it affected them," said José "Pepe" Riquelme head of the Spanish Association of Victims of Thalidomide and Other Disabled People. "We have asked the government numerous times what they are going to do for us, but they have said absolutely nothing."

Chemie Grünenthal, the company responsible for introducing thalidomide to the market, has refused to compensate any victims other than those of German nationality. The German government has also refused to compensate victims from other countries, claiming no responsibility. Recently uncovered documents have suggested, however, that thalidomide might actually have been developed in the Nazi concentration camps, which could make the German government liable.

In the meantime, Spanish thalidomide victims are left looking to their own government for aid. In 2007, the government agreed to hire a company to investigate the claims of thalidomide victims. Of 150 people who submitted information to the company, however, the government has acknowledged that only three "could" have been affected by the drug.

Two years later, even these three have yet to receive any assistance.

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