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Thalidomide Victims Believe an Apology Is Too Little Too Late

Photodisc/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- Sometimes saying you are sorry isn't enough for the victims of the drug thalidomide, who feel insulted by an apology from the German company that made the drug used to combat morning sickness in pregnant mothers in the 50's.

It took fifty years for the German pharmaceutical company Gruenenthal, makers of thalidomide - the drug that caused birth defects in thousands of babies worldwide, to apologize.

For Nick Dobrik, a member of the U.K.'s Thalidomide Trust and a victim himself said, “We feel that a sincere genuine apology is one which actually admits wrong doing. The company hasn't done that and has really insulted thalidomiders.”

What the company chief executive did do, at the unveiling of a bronze statue symbolizing a child born without limbs because of thalidomide, was to ask forgiveness for not reaching out sooner, asking those with defects to regard their long silence as a sign of shock.

Gary Skyner, a campaigner and victim himself said, “This is an absolute insult for this fellow, fifty years on, to say that the shock is the reason it took him fifty years to apologize.”

Another insult was CEO Harald Stock's assertion that the drug's possible side effects could not be detected before it was marketed as a cure for morning sickness in expecting moms. That has been widely disputed, and in the opinion of many experts disproved.

Thalidomide, given to pregnant moms as a cure for morning sickness was never sold in the U.S., but millions of tablets were given to doctors during clinical testing programs. The drug was pulled from the worldwide market in 1961.
    
Due to the drug, more than 10,000 babies had been born with a range of disabilities including shortened arms and legs, blindness, deafness, heart problems and brain damage.   For every thalidomide baby that lived there were ten who died. Today there are between 5,000 to 6,000 sufferers still living with the effects of thalidomide.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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