The Irish Thalidomide Association (ITA) is calling on the State to follow drug-maker Grünenthal’s lead and finally apologise for its failure to withdraw Thalidomide.
The German drug maker’s surprise apology was issued on Saturday at a special symposium for victims held in Germany to mark the 60th anniversary of the international withdrawal of Thalidomide in November 1961.
Michael Wirtz, representing the family that owns Grünenthal, said the company wished to apologise for “all the content of this 60-year period”.
“The apologies are addressed to a large and also essentially unknown number of affected people in Germany, but also in Europe,” Mr Wirtz said
Tarmons-based John Stack, the Chairperson of the ITA (who was born in 1963) said the apology rings hollow.
“In no jurisdiction have Grünenthal made any payment of compensation so the belated apology is somewhat hollow,” he said
“Ireland is one of the last jurisdictions in the world where litigation in relation to the damage done by the morning sickness drug is ongoing against Grünenthal,” he said.
“In Ireland the non-recall in a timely manner could be responsible for 40 to 50 per cent of total injuries here.
“The irony is that in Ireland, Grünenthal have not admitted responsibility as per their legal defence delivered in the litigation here. Yet, internationally they have apologised – so this is inconsistent. The company should specify if the apology applies to Ireland too and should put pressure on the Irish Government to also apologise,” said Mr Stack.
The ITA said that the Grünenthal apology should be followed by a similar statement from the Irish State, together with an acknowledgement of the wrongs perpetrated.
“Grünenthal should be forced to change its position on its Irish litigation by the Irish Government, who should now also acknowledge its own failures to its Irish Thalidomide family. Otherwise little degree of credence can be given to the genuineness of their apology after 60 years,” said the ITA.