France - Germany - 
Article published the Saturday 01 September 2012 - Latest update : Saturday 01 September 2012

Apology to Thalidomide victims 50 years later

Thalidomide caused nearly 10000 birth defects.
AFP PHOTO/Heckmann


Victims of the drug thalidomide, have finally received an apology 50 years later from German drug company Grunenthal on Friday.

Harald Stock, the executive director of Grunenthal, said the company was “truly sorry” for its nearly years of silence.

Towards the end of the 1950s and early 60s, it was the drug of choice for pregnant women suffering from morning sickness. The drug was touted as a ‘marvelous sedative’ in 1956, and its biggest buyers were Japan, Canada and Germany. In total, nearly 46 countries had approved Thalidomide.

However, it had devastating and irreversible effects on the fetus. Nearly 10,000 to 20,000 people were born missing segments of their legs or arms, because their mothers were prescribed thalidomide.

France was one of the few countries that allowed its sale for a short time, just towards the end of December 1961. However it was strictly controlled and was soon pulled off the market after its effects were questioned.

France is one of the few countries that has very little, if any victims from the anti-nausea drug.

Sales of thalidomide were eventually stopped in 1962.

Today, thalidomide is being studied for its effectiveness in treating autoimmune diseases, such as leprosy, lupus erythematosus, and a rare form of bone marrow cancer. It is also used in treating inflammatory diseases such as Crohn’s.

tags: Drugs - France - France and the world - Germany
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Comments (1)

Giant pharmaceutical Leopards do not lose their spots

It is apparent that these pharmaceutical companies have no integrity or any empathy with society in the way that they operate. They cover up and do not disclose to the regulators the sheer damaging side effects of their drugs as in the recent case of GlaxoSmithKline in the USA where they paid out over $3 billion in pre-action damages to stop US authorities issuing legal prosecutions against them (largest equivalent fine in pharmaceutical corporate history). These drugs were also sold over many years under false pretences to teenagers with depression problems and people with life threatening health problems (diabetics). GSK were not bothered at all about the ill-health that these drugs did to those who were prescribed these drugs also. Indeed the irony of this limitations damages payment was that according to some calculations GSK sold $28 billion of these harmful drugs around the world but where with an industry average mark-up of 50% made $14 billion profit. Therefore take $3 billion from $14 billion and GSK have pocketed $11 billion from this crime against humanity. They say that crime does not really pay but clearly it does when you are a global behemoth and have such financial and economic power.
Therefore in modern times the leopard has not really changed its spots one bit since Thalidomide was prescribed half a century ago. Indeed this is clear case again where the drug company concerned should also pay dearly to all those people that it has affected across the globe.

But we have to go back to the history of the giant pharmaceuticals to see why and where their modern roots lie.

An excellent exposé here is

Dr David Hill
World Innovation Foundation
United Kingdom – Switzerland

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