50 years too late... thalidomide drug maker issues an ’apology’ to victims
But Adams Spink, head of the European Dysmelia Reference Information Centre, says: "This is an important first step. The next is to compensate everyone damaged by their so-called ’totally harmless’ drug." At a ceremony in the western German city of Stolberg, where the company is based, Chief executive, Harald Stock said: "In the name of Gruenenthal ... I want to take this opportunity to express our deep regret over the consequences of Contergan and our deep sympathy for the victims, their mothers and families."
50 years of "silent shock"?
The victims are blamed for the companies silence! While thousands of surviving victims of thalidomide struggle on, the company excused its deafening silence by placating the victims with these words: "We also ask for forgiveness for not reaching out to you from human to human for almost 50 years ... We ask that you see our long speechlessness as a sign of the silent shock that your fate has caused us."
To add insult to injury, the Gruenenthal apology was made with a public unveiling of a statue which portrays a child with shortened arms. "The fact that Gruenenthal, a billion-euro company, is paying 5,000 euros (for the statue) is a slap in the face of every victim," said the federal association of Contergan victims.
No time for "silent shock" for parents
Lynette Rowe, now 50, was born without arms or legs after her mother took thalidomide for a month while pregnant. Lynette won a recent settlement in July against thalidomide’s Australian distributor. Lynette’s mother, Wendy Rowe, said the apology was an insult. "It’s the sort of apology you give when you’re not really sorry." Referring to Stock’s statement of ’silent shock’, Wendy Rowe said: "Our family couldn’t have gone into silent shock. We had to get up and face each day and every day and cope with the incredible damage that Gruenenthal drug did to Lyn and our family." The Rowe family’s legal firm, Slater & Gordon, called the drug manufacturer’s apology "pathetic". "It is too little, too late and riddled with further deceit."
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Thalidomide victim Tony Melendez of Dallas is shown at age four while attending therapy. He’s one of an estimated 10,000 Thalidomide victims from around the world. (Associated Press)
A law firm acting for Australian thalidomide victims says the apology issued is pathetic.