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Australia apologizes for thalidomide tragedy as some survivors hear within the Parliament gallery

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CANBERRA, Australia — Survivors of the dangerous morning illness drug thalidomide had been within the public gallery Wednesday when Australia’s Parliament made a nationwide apology to them on the 62nd anniversary of the drug being withdrawn from sale within the nation.

Thalidomide, additionally bought beneath the model names Contergan and Distaval, was out there in 46 international locations and precipitated delivery defects, stillbirths and miscarriages.

Survivors with limb deformities and one with no limbs had been within the Home of Representatives gallery to listen to Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s apology.

“At this time, on behalf of the folks of Australia, our authorities and this Parliament affords a full unreserved and overdue apology to all thalidomide survivors, their households, family members, and carers,” Albanese stated.

“This apology takes in one of many darkest chapters in Australia’s medical historical past,” he added.

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Docs had assured pregnant girls that the drug was protected.

“There was no system for correctly evaluating the protection of medicines, and the horrible cruelty of thalidomide, is that removed from being protected, only one dose was sufficient to trigger devastating hurt,” Albanese stated.

Trish Jackson, who has coronary heart and lung issues in addition to limb deformities attributable to her mom taking the drug whereas pregnant, welcomed the apology.

“All these years of … banging our heads towards brick partitions of politicians have lastly paid off,” Jackson informed Australian Broadcasting Corp.

The apology was beneficial in 2019 by a Senate inquiry into the help that was out there to getting old thalidomide survivors.

The federal government will fulfill one other suggestion Thursday by opening a memorial in Canberra in recognition of thalidomide survivors and their households.

Australia established a help program in 2020 that’s offering lifelong help to 148 survivors, and Albanese stated his authorities was reopening this system to survivors who had but to register.

Jackson stated the help program wanted to be simplified.

“It’s so bodily demanding to get something again like for drugs and stuff that … quite a lot of survivors simply don’t trouble as a result of it’s too onerous for them to do it,” Jackson stated.

She stated some medical doctors had by no means heard of thalidomide and didn’t perceive survivors’ issues.

“It’s not simply the lacking limbs. There’s a lot inner harm as nicely,” Jackson stated. “Thalidomide’s a drug that simply retains on giving us issues.”

A category-action lawsuit by Australian and New Zealand thalidomide survivors towards the drug’s British distributor Diageo Scotland Ltd. was settled a decade in the past for 89 million Australian {dollars} ($81 million).

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