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Eight families receive settlement in thalidomide case

It was supposed to be a harmless sedative for expectant mothers, but instead thalidomide caused thousands of babies around the world, including more than a hundred in Canada, to be born with severe birth defects. The Canadian government failed to warn the public of its dangers, and promised to compensate the thalidomide victims; it took almost 30 years for the government to deliver on that promise.

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The federal government's position with regard to thalidomide was that the responsibility for the safety of the drug lay with the drug manufacturer, not the government. They believed that it was up to the manufacturer to provide appropriate information concerning the safety of the drugs they produced, in this case thalidomide, and to thereby guard against the harmful effects of a drug.

In July 1968, the parents of eight thalidomide babies in Canada file lawsuits against the government as well as the manufacturer of thalidomide. The eight families receive an undisclosed yet relatively substantial settlement from the drug manufacturer, but nothing from the government. Allen Linden, the lawyer for the parents, explains the importance of this settlement and its implications.

• Structured settlements were introduced to Canada in 1968 through the cases filed against the manufacturer of thalidomide. Structured settlements allow claimants to receive payment for damages in more than one installment.

Medium: Television
Program: CBC Television News
Broadcast Date: July 4, 1968
Guest(s): Allen Linden
Reporter: Gordon Ritchie
Duration: 0:39

Last updated: November 25, 2014

Page consulted on November 25, 2014

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