Pharmeutical firm issues apology for drug causing birth defects

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(WTVR) - After 50 years of silence, an apology was made yesterday by German pharmeutical firm, Gruenenthal, for selling a drug to pregnant mothers that caused deadly birth defects.

The pharmaceutical firm sold thalidomide as a cure for morning sickness, but pregnant mothers who used this drug often gave birth to babies with undeveloped limbs, heart problems, and other serious defects.

The New York Times reports the company withdrew the drug in 1961 after it was linked to birth defects.

The company's C.E.O. says they're sorry for staying silent for so long.

"More than this, we also ask for forgiveness for not reaching out to you from human to human for almost 50 years.  Instead of doing this, we were silent, and we are sorry."

The head of a survivor's group in England dismissed the apology, saying the company should offer financial compensation to the victims. The New York Times also says the drug affected 10,000 babies worldwide, but mostly in Australia, Canada, Europe and Japan.  About 5,000 to 6,000 are still alive today.