German company says sorryPhillipa Bradbourne, a baby born without arms after her mother took the morning sickness drug in 1963 .
Sat, September 01, 2012 - 11:05 AM
A German company that invented the birth defect pregnancy drug thalidomide has issued its first apology in 50 years to thousands of people born with disabilities.
The Grunenthal Group said in a statement today it 'regrets' the consequences of the drug used to combat morning sickness which led to the birth of children without limbs during the 1950s and 1960s.
But a British charity which represents victims of the drug in the UK has rejected the apology as insufficient and demanded compensation.
Freddie Astbury, head consultant of the Thalidomide Agency UK, said Grunenthal needed to 'put their money where their mouth is' rather than simply express regret.
Astbury, who was born in Chester in 1959 with no arms and no legs after his mother took the drug, said: 'It's a disgrace that it's taken them 50 years to apologise.
'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.'
Grunenthal chief executive Harald Stock today said that the company had failed to reach out 'from person to person' to the victims and their mothers over the past 50 years.
He issued his company's apology at the unveiling of a bronze statue symbolising a child born without limbs because of thalidomide at the ceremony in the western German city of Stolberg, where the firm is based.
The inscription reads: In Remembrance of the Dead and Living of the Contergan (the brand name thalidomide was sold under in Germany).
Stock said: 'We ask for forgiveness that for nearly 50 years we didn't find a way of reaching out to you from human being to human being.
'We ask that you regard our long silence as a sign of the shock that your fate caused in us.
'We wish that the thalidomide tragedy had never happened. We see both the physical hardship and the emotional stress that the affected, their families and particularly their mothers, had to suffer because of thalidomide and still have to endure day by day.'
'Instead, we have been silent and we are very sorry for that.'
By the time the drug was pulled from the market, more than 10,000 babies worldwide had been born with a range of disabilities caused by the drug.
Many victims have only recently received compensation. (BBC)
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