Right the Wrong Campaign seeks to educate Canadians on how a government approved drug left them with severe birth defects that challenge their lives to this day
MONTREAL, Nov. 24, 2014 /CNW/ - Fifty years after the drug, Thalidomide, was prescribed as a morning sickness treatment for pregnant women, their surviving adult children are seeking financial support for the extreme medical and financial challenges the government-approved drug imposed on them and their parents. Ninety-five of the victims remain - living every moment of every day with the terrible results of this wrongly prescribed drug, including: missing and malformed limbs, deafness, blindness, disfigurement, and many other internal disabilities. The survivors' health care and mobility needs far exceed the support available under provincial health care plans. Indeed, the burden of being a Thalidomide victim is estimated to cost several hundred thousand dollars a year.
The Thalidomide Victims Association of Canada, a non-profit charitable organization, seeks to work with MP's and the Federal Government to provide long term financial support to the remaining 95 survivors.
"Without government funding, most survivors will continue to live a state of never-ending crisis - one that is not only physical, but also financial, and emotional," said Mercedes Benegbi, Executive Director, Thalidomide Victims Association of Canada.
In the 1960s, despite the fact that the United States Government had refused to authorize the drug, the Canadian Food and Drug Directorate (CFDC) gave its approval. Soon after, the drug's tragic side effects became obvious. The drug was immediately taken off the shelves in Germany, United Kingdom and other countries. But not in Canada. It was three months before the CFDC, now known as Health Canada, halted the drug's distribution.
"Our proposal to Health Canada reflects what we have learned from other governments where Thalidomide was prescribed, such the United Kingdom (UK) and Germany," said Benegbi. "Canadian-born survivors will need at least $100,000 a year, on average, plus a lump-sum payment to bring them up to par with their UK brothers and sisters."
The only direct funding support from the federal government was in 1991, when Health Canada provided a one-time payment of $65,000 on average to each survivor to deal with urgent needs at that time - such as modified cars and lower cabinets in their home. While the victims were grateful for any support, no long term solution was offered. The limited funds that were provided have long been used up.
Benegbi said, "The living victims of Thalidomide bear a physical and financial burden that is extraordinary and undeserved. By granting our funding request, Canadians and their government will be acknowledging that, in the past, a wrong was done. And, not only will such a wrong never happen again, they can be proud that they have done the best they can to make right to victims of this serious error in judgment and drug regulation."
The victims encourage all Canadians to tell the federal government and MPs on all sides of Parliament that now is the time to right the wrong. They can voice their support by visiting www.rightthewrong.ca, or on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
SOURCE: Thalidomide Victims Association of Canada
For further information:
The Bauer Group