Today Grünenthal is barely involved in financially compensating the surviving Thalidomiders from the over 5000 babies born with severe disabilities caused by their drug, Thalidomide.
The 100 Million D-Marks (about $30 million CDN at the time) that Grünenthal provided to survivors in the early 1970s are long gone. Since 1997, Grünenthal has not contributed to any monthly compensation payments owed to Thalidomide survivors, leaving the burden of payment to the German state which has been covering the pension payments. In 2012 in Australia, when Diageo, the legacy owner of Distillers which was the original distributor of Thalidomide in Australia, agreed to settle Lynette Rowe’s case for a multi-million sum, Grünenthal didn’t contribute a cent.
Almost sixty years later the survivors haven’t even received a genuine apology.
In 2012, two months after Lynette Rowe’s ground-breaking case in Australia, Grünenthal’s chief executive Harald Stock addressed Thalidomide survivors directly in a public speech. The speech marked the unveiling of a controversial sculpture that is intended to “commemorate the deaths and the survivors of the Contergan* catastrophe” in Stolberg. During his speech Stock said how sorry he was that the company had “remained silent” for such a long time and that for 50 years they hadn’t “found our way to you, from person to person.”
*In West-Germany Thalidomide was sold under the trade name “Contergan”.