Victims of drug Thalidomide given first apology in 50 years
The company responsible for the production of the drug Thalidomide, Grünenthal, has issued their first apology in 50 years. The drug was prescribed to pregnant women in the late 1950s and early 1960s in order to fight morning sickness. It was withdrawn in 1961 after its side effects caused children to be born without limbs.
In the apology Grünenthal said that possible side effects “could not be detected” before the drug was distributed and that the company “regrets” the outcome of Thalidomide.
Grünenthal’s statement has been met with criticism by victims of the worldwide scandal who claim it is insincere and does not account for full responsibility.
Nick Dobrik of UK’s Thalidomide Trust said: “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.”
The exact number of victims of the drug are not known, but estimates range from 10,000 to 20,000 worldwide. An estimated 2,000 occurred in the UK with only 466 of the children affected to have survived.
The full effects on foetuses exposed to Thalidomide included blindness, deafness, brain damage, heart problems and the shortening of both legs and arms.
In 2009, after what was called a “50-year puzzle” to explain why the drug caused the deformities, scientists at the University of Aberdeen found a component of the drug prevented new blood vessels developing inside embryos.
The damages paid out to the victims of Thalidomide is in the millions, since long term campaigns to receive compensation first began in the UK in 1972 when the effects of the drug became known and a public scandal prevailed.