Thalidomide victims reject apology from German companyView(s):
LONDON (AFP) – Thalidomide survivors yesterday rebuffed an apology by the German company that manufactured the drug, saying it was an “insulting” response to the thousands born disabled as a result of its use.
In its first apology for the scandal in 50 years, Grunenthal said on Friday it was “very sorry” for its silence towards victims of the drug, which was sold to pregnant women in the 1950s and early 1960s to cure morning sickness.But victims said the apology was too little, too late for the estimated 10,000 children worldwide who were born with defects — including missing limbs — after their mothers took thalidomide.
“We feel that a sincere and genuine apology is one which actually admits wrongdoing. The company has not done that and has really insulted the Thalidomiders,” British victim Nick Dobrik told BBC radio.
Victims’ charities estimate that there are between 5,000 and 6,000 people still living who were deformed by the drug, which was sold in nearly 50 countries before it was pulled from the market in 1961 amid one of the world’s biggest medical scandals.
Thalidomide babies were often born with missing or extremely short arms and legs. Billed as a “wonder drug” to cure everything from morning sickness to insomnia, thalidomide also caused blindness and malformed organs.
The countries most affected included Germany, Britain, Japan, Canada and Australia. It was not banned in Canada, Japan and Belgium until 1962.Freddie Astbury, president of the charity Thalidomide UK, said Grunenthal needed to “put their money where their mouth is” and compensate victims rather than simply saying sorry.
“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,” said Astbury, who was born without arms and legs after his mother took the drug.
Lawyers for Australian survivors described the belated apology as “pathetic”.
“It is too little, too late and riddled with further deceit,” lawyers for Australian victim Lynette Rowe said in a statement.
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