The Department of Health of the Provincial Ministry for the Interior in North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) approved the sale of drugs containing thalidomide. Drug approval procedures subject to public law did not exist back then.
Source: Chronology of events provided by Beate Kirk, in: Der Conterganfall: eine unvermeidbare Arzneimittelkatastrophe? Dissertation. Greifswald 1998.