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Spain court orders German thalidomide firm to pay

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MADRID (AP) - A Spanish court on Wednesday ordered a German pharmaceutical company to pay compensation to 22 Spaniards born with disabilities after their mothers used the drug thalidomide during pregnancy decades ago.

Madrid's provincial court ordered the Gruenenthal Group in Spain to pay 20,000 euros ($26,300) for each percentage point of disability of victims recognized by Spain's Health Ministry.

The total compensation bill was not immediately made known but it was much lower than the 204 million euros sought by The Spanish Association of Thalidomide Victims, which brought the case for some 200 alleged victims.

Thalidomide was a sedative prescribed between 1950 and 1960 for morning sickness. Thousands of babies whose mothers used it were born worldwide with abnormally short limbs and in some cases without arms, legs or hips.

Gruenenthal said in a statement that it was disappointed with the outcome and "will now assess the judgment in great detail and then decide on the appropriate course of action."

The company said it "cares about those affected by thalidomide" but said its conduct during the era that thalidomide was prescribed was consistent with "prevailing standards for the development and testing in the pharmaceutical industry at that time."

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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