German company Grunenthal Group issued its first apology in a half-century saying it regretted the consequences of the drug -- used to combat morning sickness -- that led to the births of children without limbs or with shortened limbs during the 1950s and 1960s, The Guardian reported.
Harald Stock, Grunenthal's chief executive, said the company had failed to reach out "from person to person" to the victims and their mothers over the past 50 years.
"We also apologize for the fact that we have not found the way to you from person to person for almost 50 years. Instead, we have been silent and we are very sorry for that," Stock said at a dedication of a memorial to commemorate the victims of thalidomide in the German city of Stolberg, where the company is located. "We ask that you regard our long silence as a sign of the silent shock that your fate has caused us."
Freddie Astbury, the head of the Thalidomide Agency UK, said the apology was rejected as insufficient and the Grunenthal Group was only apologizing because of court proceedings brought by thalidomide victims in Australia, and it needed to "put their money where their mouth is" rather than simply express regret, The Guardian said.
"If they are serious about admitting they are at fault and regret what happened, they need to start helping those of us who were affected financially," Astbury, who was born in Chester, England, in 1959 with no arms and no legs after his mother took the drug, told The Guardian. "Being disabled is very expensive and thalidomide people need help and care, and adaptations to their cars and homes."
Astbury said there were 458 people living in Britain who were affected by the drug, but for every thalidomide baby who lived there were 10 who died.