(NaturalNews) It has been more than 50 years now since German drug giant Grunenthal unleashed for medical use the infamous horror drug known as thalidomide in 1957. The controversial morning sickness medication was quickly withdrawn worldwide in 1961 after it was discovered that thousands of babies whose mothers were exposed to it lost their limbs, developed other serious birth defects, or died. But despite its incredible dangers, thalidomide is still in use today as a chemotherapy treatment for cancer patients.
As reported by BBC News and several other sources, the city of Stolberg in Germany, where Grunenthal is based, recently unveiled a bronze memorial in commemoration of the tens of thousands of young children that were born with birth defects or died as a result of thalidomide. And part of the terms of the project included requiring Grunenthal to participate in both the funding and presentation of the statue, which features a girl with disfigured feet and no arms, and an empty chair. (http://www.npr.org)
Grunenthal reluctantly accepted the proposal, as the company really had no choice, and agreed to issue a formal apology for the damage caused by thalidomide 50 years after its horrific side-effects first began to emerge. But this apology, which was soft-peddled and virtually meaningless, is hardly adequate as thousands of thalidomide's living victims still struggle daily to care for themselves and their loved ones, as well as pay their exorbitant medical bills.
Grunenthal 'apology' completely whitewashes company's deliberate denial of thalidomide dangers
A recent settlement made by British and Australian thalidomide distributor Diageo that resulted in a multimillion dollar payout to a thalidomide victim uncovered that Grunenthal actually knew two years before thalidomide was pulled from the market that the drug caused birth defects. And yet in his apology, which was really more of a public relations whitewash than anything else, Grunenthal CEO Harald Stock denied that his company had any prior knowledge about thalidomide's dangers.
Adding to this crafty lie, Stock also failed to even apologize for the damage caused by thalidomide, which was supposed the be the whole point of the company's involvement in the memorial unveiling. Instead, Stock sought forgiveness from the public for his company's failure to "find a way of reaching out to [them] from human being to human being," whatever that means. He even tried to claim that Grunenthal's silence on the matter for more than 50 years was because the company was in "shock" -- nice.
The validity of such statements is laughable, considering the fact that numerous outside sources have confirmed that Grunenthal knew all along about thalidomide's gruesome side-effects, but did nothing about them. The company apparently thought the issue would eventually just be swept under the rug. But now that it has reemerged in the limelight, Grunenthal decided to carefully piece together a canned "apology" that neither apologizes nor admits any responsibility for the damage caused by its deadly thalidomide drug.
"In March 1961, the (Grunenthal) board could have sensibly decided to withdraw thalidomide from the market in light of claims of birth defects and nerve damage to people taking it," wrote Geoff Adams-Spink, a former BBC journalist who himself suffers multiple impairments as a result of thalidomide, in a recent CNN editorial. "Instead, [the company] decided to carry on regardless -- there was far too much money to be made from peddling its toxic 'wonder drug.'"
Thalidomide's origins traced back to Nazi death camps
It is also worth noting that, according to numerous credible sources, thalidomide got its start in Nazi death camps. In his editorial piece, Adams-Spink explains how two solicitors working on behalf of thalidomide survivors discovered that thalidomide was tested on Nazi prisoners in Poland during the Holocaust. Convicted Nazi war criminal Otto Ambros, who was Hitler's chief chemical weapons expert, also served on Grunenthal's board in the 1950s. (http://www.heraldsun.com.au)
"This is a company that has evil written into its DNA," Dr. Martin Johnson, a respected historian and Director of the U.K.-based Thalidomide Trust, is quoted as saying by Adams-Spink. (http://www.cnn.com)
Deadly thalidomide still used today in Western medicine
None of this is really all that surprising when you consider the fact, for every individual baby exposed to thalidomide that survived, albeit with permanent birth defects, 10 others died as a result of exposure to thalidomide. Grunenthal, after all, has a long legacy of serving the interests of the Nazi Party -- thalidomide's creator, Heinrich Muckter, was also a Nazi -- so it is not surprising that the company knowingly dispensed deadly drugs, and later tried to cover it up.
This is illustrated in that thalidomide was never properly safety tested or proven to be safe prior to its release, despite what Grunenthal now claims. Documents exposing this truth conveniently went missing in the 1970s when prosecutors actively began to pursue Grunenthal on behalf of thalidomide's many victims. (http://www.cnn.com)
And though it was never approved in the U.S. as a treatment for morning sickness like it was in many other countries at the time, thalidomide is actually still used today in the U.S. as a chemotherapy treatment for cancer patients. The very same drug that killed countless children and maimed many others is now being regularly injected into those suffering from cancer, as well as administered as a treatment for leprosy. (http://www.chemocare.com/bio/thalidomide.asp)
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), of course, is the entity responsible for allowing thalidomide to reemerge as a supposedly safe and effective drug treatment. While a memorial commemorating the tragedy unleashed by thalidomide in the 1950s is being established in Europe, the FDA is actively promoting the use of thalidomide in the U.S., where more research is now being conducted on potential new "uses" for this deadly drug. (http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/thalidomide/HQ01507)