February 1, 2009

Thalidomide victims seek better care

Thalidomide victims in Britain say the government is denying them financial aid as they age and their health worsens.

It's estimated more than 450 people whose mothers took thalidomide during pregnancy are nearing 50 and suffering physical breakdowns, The Sunday Times of London reported.

Thousands of British mothers were prescribed thalidomide as a cure for morning sickness, and gave birth to babies who then died or grew up with drastically stunted arms and fingers and no shoulder joints.

Michaelina Argy, 46, of London, says limb deficiencies forced her to put damaging stress on other parts of her body. Like many thalidomide victims, Argy's primary income of about $26,000 a year comes from the Thalidomide Trust, established in the 1970s with money from Distillers Biochemicals, who sold the drug in the Britain.

The money is proving woefully inadequate as Argy and others age and need to adapt their homes and care, she said.

British health officials have said Argy and others like her are entitled to services available to all people with disabilities but the government cannot afford extra funding for thalidomide victims.