Grünenthal was only willing to withdraw Thalidomide after the media broke the story. On November 26, 1961 the German newspaper “Welt am Sonntag” published an article with the headline “Missgeburten durch Tabletten? Alarmierender Verdacht eines Arztes gegen ein weitverbreitetes Medikament” (“Miscarriages due to pills? An alarming doctor’s suspicion against a widely used drug.”). The article described how Hamburg pediatrician Dr. Widukind Lenz warned about “a certain substance” at a recent congress of the “Association of Pediatricians” in North Rhine-Westphalia and how he believed this substance was responsible for the increasing number of malformed babies. (Contergan or Thalidomide was not specifically named in this article). The writer of this article clearly warned about the risks and wondered why the authorities have not acted yet.
Source: Chronology of events provided by Beate Kirk, in: Der Conterganfall: eine unvermeidbare Arzneimittelkatastrophe? Dissertation. Greifswald 1998.