Germany to double benefits for thalidomide victims
( dpa ) - After a public outcry against Germany's limited help for aging thalidomide victims, the country's two ruling parties agreed Wednesday to double the monthly stipend paid to people disabled by the drug.
Put on the market in October 1957 by the Gruenenthal company of Germany, the sedative caused an estimated 10,000 unborn children around the world to develop without full arms, legs and other organs.
Victims say that as they near the age of 50 and their parents die off, they need extra help to relieve sore joints and compensate for a life of poor earnings.
Volker Kauder, head of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) federal caucus, said talks with the Social Democatic Party (SPD) had produced agreement to appropriate 15 million euros (22 million dollars) annually to increase the state-backed stipends.
Currently the 2,870 victims in Germany receive a stipend of up to 545 euros monthly depending on their degree of disability from a trust fund set up by Gruenenthal and the German government.
The children were born disabled after their mothers took the drug as a remedy for morning sickness. The over-the-counter remedy was taken off the market and better drug regulation introduced round the globe.
German victims have demanded a tripling of the stipend, saying victims in Britain and elsewhere were compensated better. Spanish victims have only recently begun a legal fight for compensation.