12/20/2023On November 29th, 2023, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese issued an apology in the name of the Australian Parliament for the role of the Australian government in the thalidomide tragedy. The apology was addressed at Australian thalidomide survivors, who have been campaigning for recognition for years.
The Australian government was warned by the licensed distributors in December 1961 about the teratogenic – meaning birth-defect-causing - properties of the drug, Albanese stated. However, he said, it was not until August 1962 that Australia formally withdrew Thalidomide from the market. Furthermore, no actions were taken to notify the public or locate and destroy existing stock in circulation.
“To the survivors - we apologise for the pain thalidomide has inflicted on each and every one of you each and every day. We are sorry. We are more sorry than we can say”, said Albanese.
In support of the apology, the Australian government has opened a memorial to bring light to the tragedy and fates of the Thalidomide survivors and their families.
Grünenthal welcomes these developments. “We see this development as a milestone event in the context of Thalidomide. The affected people are in need of support, not only financially, but also physically and emotionally. We hope this apology will give the survivors and their families a bit of peace.“ says Fabia Kehren, Member of the Commission of the Grünenthal Foundation.
For more information, please visit this AP news article and this article by the BBC.
For details on the National Site of Recognition for Thalidomide Survivors and their Families, visit the website of the Department of Aged Health and Care of the Australian Government.