Thalidomide victim in hunger strike protest

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Gary Skyner is on hunger strike again. Pic © Facebook Gary Skyner

Gary Skyner is on hunger strike again. Pic © Facebook Gary Skyner

Liverpool comedian and Thalidomide victim Gary Skyner is in his second week of hunger strike as he fights for compensation from the drug’s creators.

Thalidomide was given to mothers to help counteract the symptoms of morning sickness, but led to severe deformities in the limbs of over 10,000 new born babies.

The truth about the drug’s dangers was hidden from the public until 1962 and onlyy after criminal proceedings against the manufacturer compensation was paid to the victims.

Gary has gone on strike several times in his battle against the German pharmaceutical company Grunenthal, mostly recently in 2009 when his mother joined him on his 42 day plight. Since 21st January Gary, who lives in Aigburth, has lived on diet of just liquids and vitamin supplements.

He feels such drastic measures are necessary, telling JMU Journalism: “I have felt passionately about this for 56 years, it is cruel. The National Advisory Council set up to help is always arranging meetings but does nothing to help.”

The campaign is for further compensation to help the 469 people affected by Thalidomide who are still alive in the UK, it is asking for £10 million a year for the Thalidomide Trust to share between the survivors up to their 70th birthday.

He has had support over the years from his showbiz pals with Prince Naseem Hamed, the Gallagher brothers and most recently Ricky Tomlinson giving their backing to Gary’s fight for justice.

In a letter to Grunenthal, Gary wrote: “You blighted our lives, the affected victims, but the true victims were those young mothers and fathers expecting their bouncing bundles of joy only to be met with the horrific limb deformities Grunenthal bestrode on us.”

Grunenthal set up an organisation to help those its drug affected by way of non-financial support, this offers equipment such as wheelchairs, home modifications and hearing aids.

However many victims feel the company simply isn’t doing enough. Gary told JMU Journalism: “Grunenthal and the German government are culpable for what happened and they should financially support the needs of the 469 people living with Thalidomide”

Despite several meetings between Gary and Grunenthal they have so far refused any further compensation.

Over 10,000 people have so far taken an interest in the campaign and Gary hopes this attention will finally get the Thalidomide community the help it deserves.

About Adrian Speed, JMU Journalism