Grunenthal apology welcomed

A limb difference organisation founded by European Thalidomide survivors, has offered a cautious welcome to the news that the German manufacturer of the anti-morning sickness drug that caused their serious disabiltities, has for the first time, issued an apology.

Pharmaceutical company Gruenenthal has reportedly “asked for forgiveness” from the thousands of children born with missing or shortened limbs and other disabilities after their mothers were prescribed thalidomide, during the 1950s and 1960s.

EDRIC, (European Dysmelia Reference Information Centre), which runs the online DysNet Limb Difference Network, says any apology must lead to help for all those who have lived for the last fifty years with physical impairments as a result of thalidomide.

Thalidomide was pulled from the market in 1961 after it was linked to birth defects. Many victims have only recently received compensation.

Chief executive Harald Stock said Friday that the company had failed to reach out “from person to person” to the victims and their mothers over the past 50 years.

“Instead, we remained silent,” Stock said at an event in the western city of Stolberg where Gruenenthal is based.

EDRIC Chairman and journalist, Geoff Adams Spink, himself a thalidomide survivor said, “Having tried to remind them of their criminal behaviour across a negotiating table on several occasions, I didn’t think this company would ever make things right.  This is important first step.  The next is to compensate everyone damaged by their so-called ‘totally harmless’ drug.”

The Thalidomide Trust is still seeking a permanent financial settlement for those living in the UK who are experiencing increasing health difficulties caused by their disabilities as they age.
Recently in Australia, Thalidomider Lynette Rowe secured a multi-million dollar settlement from Diageo, who distributed the drug in the country and there is a class action in the country brought by several other survivors.

Elsewhere in the world, including New Zealand, Ireland and the US as well as across Europe, thousands of others still await financial redress.


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