Thalidomide drug maker apologises to victims at last

 

The German pharmaceutical company that produced the morning sickness drug thalidomide has, more than half a century after it was withdrawn from use, apologised.

Thousands of children were born without limbs and many died before their first birthdays but those that survive – 12,000 worldwide including 458 in the UK – finally received an apology yesterday from Gruenenthal.

The company's chief executive, Harald Stock, issued the apology at the unveiling of a memorial in Stolberg, Germany, to the victims of the drug. He said the company had failed to reach out to the victims and their mothers over the past 50 years. "Instead, we have been silent and we are very sorry for that," he said.

However, the apology was rejected with suspicion and as inadequate by the charity which represents people affected by the drug in Britain.

Freddie Astbury, of Thalidomide Agency UK, said: "If they are serious about admitting they are at fault and regret what happened, they need to start helping those of us who were affected financially."

He believes the apology comes because victims in Australia have started court proceedings.

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