The High Court has adjourned several claims for compensation over the use of the drug Thalidomide to a date in November for further case management.
Twenty-six cases are being brought against the manufacturers of the drug German firm Grünenthal GmbH, the Irish distributors TP Whelehan Son & Co, and the Ministers for Health and Environment.
Launched as a sedative in Germany in 1957, it is alleged the drug caused deformities in unborn children when it was given to their pregnant mothers. The alleged wrongdoing dates back to the 1960s.
The actions have been case managed on their way to trial for the last few years and a preliminary issue to be determined in the actions is whether the cases are statute-barred.
Judge Noonan added that he would also deal with other preliminary matters, including the discovery of relevant material and issues over expert reports, when the matter returns before the court. Earlier the court heard that lawyers for the plaintiffs claimed there were difficulties in obtaining medical records to progress the cases.
They also claimed the defendants were causing delays by making various applications in advance of trial.
In a statement issued after the ruling, the Chairman of Thalidomide Ireland, John Stack, said the organisation, “on behalf of its members both alive and deceased”, was pleased to know that the plaintiffs had a right to discover State documents.
“Unfortunately, two of our members have not survived to conclude their court actions against the Irish State … Our members are ageing, becoming more decrepit and suffering the adverse effects of their physical deterioration.
“That is fundamentally wrong and shows that the State’s moral compass in respect of catastrophic injury litigation is incorrectly set for the purpose of minimisation of costs rather than doing the correct thing by its injured citizens,” he said.
In a previous statement, a spokesperson for Grünenthal said the company was “deeply sorry for what happened to those affected by the thalidomide tragedy”.
Source: The Journal