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Payout in cases of drug birth defects

More than 100 Australian and New Zealand victims of thalidomide have won a A$89 million (£50m) settlement from the parent of the company that distributed the drug that caused thousands of birth defects around the world.

Thalidomide, a popular drug for morning sickness about 50 years ago, damaged unborn children when taken in early pregnancy.

Diageo PLC agreed to settle two class-action lawsuits brought on behalf of Australian and New Zealand victims in the Supreme Court of Victoria, law firm Slater & Gordon said yesterday.

The lawsuits were filed against German drugmaker Grünenthal, which invented and produced thalidomide, and companies associated with UK Distillers, which Diageo bought in 1986.

Diageo agreed to pay compensation to a lead plaintiff in July 2012, followed by lengthy negotiations for other victims.

"It has been difficult and challenging litigation but this settlement will now see a group of people receive compensation, a result that goes some distance to finally addressing a very grave historic wrong," said Peter Gordon, a lawyer from Gordon Legal, which conducted the proceedings with Slater & Gordon.

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