Diageo has agreed to settle out-of-court with the victims

Diageo has agreed to settle out-of-court with the victims

Diageo has agreed what it says is a “fair and equitable” settlement for victims of the drug thalidomide that was distributed by a former subsidiary in Australia and New Zealand.

The company has been indirectly embroiled in a long-running class action lawsuit as the owner of the now defunct drinks and pharmaceutical firm The Distillers Company, which distributed the morning sickness drug thalidomide. The drug, launched in the late 1950s, is believed to have caused birth defects to around 10,000 children worldwide. 

Diageo, which was not responsible for supplying the drug, has today (2 December) reportedly agreed to pay around 100 Australian and New Zealand victims a total of AUD89m (US$81m) in an out-of-court settlement.

Ian Wright, Diageo's corporate relations director, said: “Diageo has always endeavoured to act responsibly and empathetically with respect to people injured by thalidomide, as evidenced by our continuing relationship with the UK Thalidomide Trust and the Australian Trust settlements of recent years.

“We believe that the settlement reached today is both fair and equitable to all involved in this very sensitive and difficult situation. I am pleased that Diageo has again acted responsibly for people who have suffered as a result of thalidomide.”

According to French news agency AFP, Peter Gordon, the lawyer for the victims said: "Diageo has behaved in a compassionate fashion, and that should be recognised."