NewsOwner family apologizes to thalidomide victims

Owner family apologizes to thalidomide victims

It is a surprise: The Grünenthal owner family apologizes to the Contergan victims – decades after the sleepy pill was launched with serious consequences.

Aachen / Hamburg – 60 years after the sleeping pill Contergan was withdrawn from the market, the manufacturer’s family has apologized to the victims.

On behalf of his entire family, Michael Wirtz said on behalf of the family that owns the pharmaceutical company Grünenthal, he apologized for the “entire content of this 60-year period”. The apology is addressed to “a large and essentially unknown quantity of affected people in Germany, but also in Europe.”

Wirtz expressed his personal words in a recorded conversation with the former chairman of the Federal Association of Thalidomide Victims, Georg Löwenhauser. An excerpt from the video was played on Saturday at an online event organized by the federal association.

The former managing partner of Grünenthal said that those affected expected the Wirtz family to express themselves and that “not hiding behind a legal entity of Grünenthal GmbH”. He emphasized: “And I am doing this in all frankness and in a highly official manner under witnesses that I expressly apologize for these issues that have happened to you in all of these families.”

One of the biggest drug scandals

Contergan with the active ingredient thalidomide was launched in October 1957 and had led to one of the worst scandals in post-war history. Around 5000 children in Germany were born with malformations, often with shortened arms or legs, after their mothers had taken Contergan during pregnancy. On November 27, 1961, Grünenthal withdrew the drug from the market. Many victims have already died. Around 2400 thalidomide victims live with considerable impairments.

“From many conversations we know about the importance of this gesture for many people affected by Contergan and their parents. We therefore very much welcome this step, ”said a response from the Grünenthal company to Wirtz’s statement. “It is an important point on the path of dialogue between those affected, Grünenthal and the owner family.”

Löwenhauser, who took part in the online event broadcast from Hamburg on Saturday, said of the apology that he was pleasantly surprised. She is “definitely meant absolutely seriously.” According to the associations affected, a clear request for forgiveness is important for many victims. The company apologized in 2012 for not approaching the victims earlier. At the time, victims’ associations had described this as worthless or even insulting.

Grünenthal emphasized in a statement from Aachen on Saturday: “We cannot change what has happened. But we want to take on responsibility with our Grünenthal Foundation to support those affected by thalidomide and make our contribution to improving the quality of life. ”The Contergan tragedy is part of the company’s history“ and we deeply regret the far-reaching consequences. ”Dpa

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