LETTERS: Thalidomide facts

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From Mr Christopher Lingard

Sir: Roger Jones of Penn Pharmaceuticals (Magazine: "The return of thalidomide", 23 September) may well have spotted a lucrative niche market for his company's product but, as a commentator on the thalidomide parents' settlement with Distillers in the early Seventies, he displays a dangerous lack of comprehension.

The fact that thalidomide caused the birth defects was never questioned by Distillers, who simply maintained that it was unreasonable to expect them to have discovered that fact. To suggest, as Mr Jones does, that the parents only settled because they had evidence that weakened their own case is scurrilous nonsense.

The thalidomide parents were a disparate group who faced a multi-million- pound company with virtually unlimited resources to fight the case and who wielded that economic muscle in rather distasteful ways. The fact that the parents achieved a settlement at all reflects creditably on them.

Unfortunately, since the Seventies, the level of the settlement has proved inadequate. Perhaps as Mr Jones and the other pharmaceutical companies rake in their profits, they will reflect on the fight that the British victims are still waging for realistic compensation.

Yours faithfully,

Christopher Lingard

Legal Adviser

Thalidomide Action Group