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50 Years Later, Thalidomide Maker Apologizes

Morning sickness drug caused birth defects in the 1950s
By Dustin Lushing,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 31, 2012 5:14 PM CDT

(Newser) – The German pharmaceutical company that created the drug thalidomide apologized for the first time—after more than 50 years—for the thousands of children worldwide born with deformities because their mothers took the popular morning sickness medication. The CEO of Gruenenthal read the apology at a dedication of a statue memorializing the victims, reports NPR.

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Thalidomide was sold in 46 countries (but not the US, though tablets were distributed as part of a clinical trial) in the 1950s but was taken off the market in 1961 when the connection to birth defects became clear. After a long trial, Gruenenthal was forced to set up a fund compensating victims, but it refrained from officially apologizing. "We also apologize for the fact that we have not found the way to you from person to person for almost 50 years," the CEO said in his speech. "Instead, we have been silent and we are very sorry for that." (Read more thalidomide stories.)

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