Sarah Boseley

Fifty years since the introduction of thalidomide, sold as a “safe” cure for morning sickness in pregnancy, its seriously disabled victims launched a campaign in London on Thursday for greater compensation from the German manufacturer.

At least 3,500 of more than 5,000 babies born with severe deformities are still alive. It is estimated 100,000 babies died in the womb and 10,000 were born with serious disabilities. Thalidomide victims receive an average of £18,000 a year in Britain, but in Germany and Ireland the maximum is £4,000. The campaign is asking for €4 bn from the German government and Grunenthal, the company which developed the drug. — © Guardian Newspapers Limited, 2008