German drug firm makes 1st apology for thalidomide after 50 years
BERLIN (AP) - The German manufacturer of a notorious drug that caused thousands of babies to be born with shortened arms and legs, or no limbs at all, issued its first ever apology on Friday - 50 years after pulling the drug off the market.
Gruenenthal Group's chief executive said the company wanted to apologise to mothers who took the drug during the 1950s and 1960s and to their children who suffered congenital birth defects as a result.
"We ask for forgiveness that for nearly 50 years, we didn't find a way of reaching out to you from human being to human being," Mr Harald Stock said. "We ask that you regard our long silence as a sign of the shock that your fate caused in us."
Mr Stock spoke in the west German city of Stolberg, where the company is based, during the unveiling of a bronze statue symbolising a child born without limbs because of thalidomide. The statue is called "the sick child" - a name German victims group object to since all the victims are now adults.