Two leading personal injury firms have joined forces to represent those affected by the drug thalidomide.

London firm Leigh Day & Co and national firm Russell Jones & Walker this week launched the Thalidomiders Legal Group to pursue compensation claims on behalf of people in the UK born with disabilities as a result of their mothers having taken the drug during pregnancy between 1957 and 1961.

Fraser Whitehead, senior litigation partner at RJW, and Martyn Day, senior partner of Leigh Day, who jointly head the group, said that many people may have missed out on compensation deals struck in the 1970s because their conditions were either not apparent or not recognised as being caused by the drug.

Advances in medical science since then have raised the possibility that there may be undiagnosed victims of the drug who could now pursue a claim.

Whitehead said the criteria for determining whether someone has a claim may now be too narrow.

The group is working with Peter Gordon, a lawyer in ­Melbourne, who is pursuing claims made by a number of people in Australia.