Senate Committee hearing in support for Australian thalidomide-affected people

At the request of of those affected the Australian Community Affairs Committee[1] last year agreed to convene a hearing into “Support for Australia’s thalidomide survivors”.

In several countries, such as Germany and Ireland, Grünenthal marketed its thalidomide products under its own name and brand either directly or through independent companies operating as Grünenthal's direct distributor. In contrast, in several other countries, including the UK and Australia, independent companies tested, produced and marketed their thalidomide products under license from Grünenthal. At no stage did Grünenthal market its own thalidomide-containing products in Australia, as Grünenthal had no presence in Australia at that time (and is not active today in Australia). As such Diageo, the legal successor of Distillers, is the principal contact for matters related to thalidomide in Australia.

In Australia, Diageo has shown and continues to demonstrate empathy for people affected by the thalidomide tragedy. We understand that Diageo, which had distributed and marketed thalidomide-containing products by its legacy company Distillers, has made substantial payments to individuals in Australia.

We wish to emphasize that Grünenthal deeply regrets the thalidomide tragedy and its consequences for those affected by thalidomide and their families. We wish it never happened. The quality of life of those affected matters to us. This is why we want to understand how we can support individuals affected by thalidomide in a continuous dialogue through our Grünenthal Foundation – we have supported more than 2,000 cases since its establishment.

The Grünenthal Foundation is open to all people suffering from Grünenthal’s thalidomide products or its licensees who are acknowledged by an official institution that applies similar eligibility criteria as the Contergan Foundation or the UK Thalidomide Trust. Whether those affected by a thalidomide product from Distillers in Australia (and New Zealand) are eligible to receive benefits from the Grünenthal Foundation will depend on whether they meet the criteria.

1 https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Community_Affairs/About_this_committee