Thalidomide group rejects manufacturer's apology

Monday 03 September 2012 15.08
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Thousands of children suffered birth defects
Thousands of children suffered birth defects
The Thalidomide statue on display in Stolberg
The Thalidomide statue on display in Stolberg

Representatives of Irish Thalidomide victims have said an apology from the manufacturers does not acknowledge any wrongdoing.

German firm Gruenenthal manufactured Thalidomide in the 1950s and 60s as a cure for morning sickness.

However, it led to birth defects and thousands of babies were left without limbs.

The Irish Thalidomide Association said: "Grüenenthal have issued an apology while saying they did no wrong, this is meaningless."

It also said that the Government has refused both an apology and an acknowledgment of wrongdoing by failing to have proper regulations of drugs.

The government is also accused of failing to remove the drug Thalidomide from the shelves for almost a year after all other countries had removed it.

Gruenenthal Chief Executive Harald Stock earlier said the company was "very sorry" it had remained silent on the issue.

It has been 50 years since the drug was taken off the market.

Mr 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."

Mr Stock spoke in the German city of Stolberg, where the company is based, during the unveiling of a bronze statue symbolising a child born without limbs because of thalidomide.

Gruenenthal settled a lawsuit in Germany in 1972, 11 years after stopping sales of the drug and voiced its regret to the victims.

But for decades, the company refused to admit liability, saying it had conducted all necessary clinical trials required at the time.