top of page



What some governments have done for their survivors...

UK National Government

1973:     The Thalidomide Trust was set up to

             administer payments made by Distillers, who

             had distributed the Thalidomide drug in the UK.

1973:    Distillers (now Diageo), agreed to pay £20 million

            sterling in compensation. 

1974:    The British government donated £5 million

            sterling to the Thalidomide Trust, which was an

            offset of tax on the original £20 million paid in

            by Distillers.     

1996:    The British government, without offering any

            particular reason, donated a further £7 million. 

2004:   The UK government introduced new legislation

            (Statutory Instrument 2004 1819) so that the

            Annual Grants received by beneficiaries were

            treated as damages for personal injury and

            were therefore exempt from Tax.         

2005:   Distillers agreed a complex new multi-year

            financial settlement estimated to cost in the

            order of £153 million as additional

            compensation for Thalidomide survivors.

            The additional funding provided for covenant

            payments to be increased and for the

            payments to be extended from 2022 to 2037.

            This was calculated on the basis of the money

            required to double beneficiary annual

            payments from 2004 levels by 2022.  

2010/Jan 14:    British Health Minister, Mike O’Brien,

            confirmed a new £20 million support package,

            which had been announced during the month of

            December ’09.

            This was for three years funding (initially on a

             pilot basis) to meet the increased health needs of


             The £20 million will be administered through the

             Thalidomide Trust.

             If the £20 million was to be divided equally across

            all surviving Thalidomide survivors in the UK,

            each survivor would receive in the order of

            £43,000 sterling (dependent on their level of

            Thalidomide damage).

2010:   United Kingdom Health Minister (Mike O’Brien)

           makes a formal apology to their Thalidomide

           Victims, expressing “sincere regret and deep

sympathy” on behalf of the government.                

2012/Dec 20: Brittish government paid £80-million

      sterling into the Thalidomide Trust.          

2017:   The UK government introduces a "benefits

           disregard" so that the funding received by the

           UK Thalidomide survivors from the Thalidomide

           Trust is disregarded when they are assessed for

           eligibility to receive state-funded benefits.   

National Government of Ireland

1970:    the German government set up a compensation

     scheme from which Irish Thalidomiders received

     financial support.

      In detail Thalidomiders received the following;

             1)  A lump sum ranging between DM7,500

                 (IR£1,250 approximately) and DM25,000 (IR£4,200

                 approx), and

            2)  A monthly allowance for life ranging between

                   DM100 (IR£17 approx) and DM450 (IR£75 approx). 

1973:    The Irish government as a matter of principal

     decided to significantly increase the German

     compensation scheme.

     In addition to the German scheme the

     Irish government provided the following;

            1)   A lump sum ranging between IR£6,600 and

                  IR£21,300, and

           2)   A monthly allowance for life ranging between

                 IR£31.75 and IR£95.00.

The allowances, German and Irish, are tax-free, are not reckonable for State benefits and each of the Thalidomide survivors are the holders of medical cards. In addition, a Thalidomide survivor can also claim disability allowance of approximately €849 per month or €10,192 per annum (2010 figures).

If disability allowance is added (€849 per month – 2010 figures) the total tax-free sum claimable by a Thalidomide survivor is €1,773 (least severe) or €3,381 (most severe) monthly i.e. €21,280 or €40,568 annually (2010 figures).

Updated figures are still being researched by this website.

Federal Government of Australia

Mid to late 1960’s:    The Australian Government made

            available the facilities of Veterans Affairs to

            provide the fitting of artificial limbs for those

            children missing either upper or lower limbs.

1974:    The Australian government made a one-off

            payment of $150,000 to off-set the taxes earned

            by the Thalidomide Foundation.

Following any settlements in 1974 (Distillers), 2010 (Diageo), and 2014 (Diageo), the Federal Government passed legislation ensuring that the lump sum and ex-gratia payments were not considered income and therefore not liable for payment of income tax.

Canadian Government

1980:    Thalidomide victims settled with

             William S Merrell (Canadian distributors). 

1991:     Federal Government gave survivors of

            Thalidomide a one-time payout of $8.5 million.

            (between $52,000 - $82,000 a person depending

            on level of disability) 

2015/Early:    Federal Government offered a second

            lump-sum payment of $125,000 to survivors.

            The Government also promised $168-million

            availability as annual compensation,

            (although did not explain how survivors would

            access that fund).

2015/May:   Details provided on the $168-million

            included victims of Thalidomide receiving

            annual payments of up to $100,000, depending

            on level of disability.

2015:    Federal Government to create an annual

            Extraordinary Medical Assistance Fund of

            $5000,000 to assist survivors with medical, living,

            and transport expenses.

2015:    Health Canada to allocate an administrator to

            manage the EMA Fund and compensation

            re-assessments levels.

German Federal Government

Grünenthal, the German manufacturer of the drug, set up a €50m (£41m) fund for 3,000 thalidomide victims on the Continent, mostly in Germany, and unveiled a memorial last September when, for the first time, it expressed its “sincere regrets” and “deep sympathy” for those affected. But it has never compensated the British victims.  

2012:     The inventor of Thalidomide (the Grünenthal Group) releases a statement saying it regrets the consequences of the drug.

       “We ask that you regard our long silence

        as a sign of the silent shock that your

        fate has caused us!”

        Company Chief Executive, Harold Stock  

On average, German survivors of Thalidomide receive the equivalent of £10,000 sterling a year from a foundation funded by Chemie Grünenthal and the government.

Updated figures are still being researched by this website.

bottom of page