German thalidomide inventor issues first apology in 50 years for thousands of lives ruined, but offers no compensation to victims

Thursday, September 13, 2012 by: Jonathan Benson, staff writer
Tags: thalidomide, apology, victims

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(NaturalNews) Victims of a morning sickness drug that was on the market for just a few years back in the late 1950s before being quickly recalled for its deadly side-effects are outraged after the drug's maker recently issued a formal apology for the tragedies caused by the drug, but failed to offer the drug's victims any compensation. German drug company Grunenthal stopped short of actually admitting guilt in its apology for the tens of thousands of people who lost limbs or died as a result of thalidomide, and the company also offered nothing in the way of practical assistance to its many victims.

Introduced in 1957 as a treatment for morning sickness, the Nazi concentration camp-wrought drug thalidomide is linked to causing serious birth defects, including loss of limbs, and death. This slate of serious side effects is what got the drug banned fewer than four years after it was first approved ( During the time that thalidomide was on the market, untold thousands of children born to mothers who took the drug ended up suffering from these and other horrific side-effects, while the company for decades said and did nothing to support them.

After the German town of Stolberg recently decided to erect a bronze statue in remembrance of the many who died or were permanently injured as a result of thalidomide, Grunenthal had no choice but to participate in the proceedings as it was directly responsible for the drug's deadly consequences. But the soft-peddled apology its current CEO Harald Stock gave during the memorial's unveiling, coupled with no real admission of guilt or a plan of action to help thalidomide's living victims with their copious financial needs, angered many who are now demanding that justice be served.

"We feel that a sincere and genuine apology is one which actually admits wrongdoing," said Nick Dobrik, a member of the U.K. Thalidomide Trust's national advisory council. "The company has not done that and has really insulted the thalidomiders," he added, noting that any legitimate apology from Grunenthal "should be an unreserved apology, not a conditional apology."

Grunenthal says it took half a century to respond to victims because the company was in 'shock'

Others are livid that it took Grunenthal more than 50 years to even make a peep about the issue, while thousands of its victims struggled throughout the course of several decades to survive while having to pay exorbitant costs for their daily medical needs. Many of those who survived thalidomide's destructive effects required live-in caretakers, for instance, as they themselves typically were unable to perform routine and necessary functions that require the use of hands and legs.

"It's no good apologizing if they won't open discussions on compensation," said Freddie Astbury, president of Thalidomide U.K. to BBC News. "They've got to seriously consider financial compensation for these people." (

Earlier in the summer, an Australian woman who was injured by thalidomide was awarded a multi-million dollar settlement from U.K.-based Diageo, a distributor of thalidomide. That particular case revealed that Grunenthal knew at least two years prior to thalidomide's withdrawal from the market that the drug caused serious side effects, despite Stock's claim that the company was unaware of thalidomide's harmful side effects prior to its withdrawal from the market. (

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