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Parliamentary questions
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13 November 2014
Question for written answer E-009231-14
to the Commission
Rule 130
Mara Bizzotto (NI)

 Subject:  Justice for thalidomide victims
 Answer in writing 

In 1957 the German pharmaceutical company, Chemie Grünenthal, released Thalidomide on to the market. The drug was used against sickness, mainly by pregnant women, and led to at least 20 000 births of infants with serious physical malformations.

The documentation gathered over the years by the Thalidomide Society, an association of British victims of the drug, provides evidence both that the company was at fault and that the German Government meddled in the conduct of the trial. Begun in 1967 and concluded in 1970, the proceedings did not lead to a conviction of the pharmaceutical company, but a simple out-of-court settlement, compensating only the German victims. The survivors’ association, acting on the advice of major law firms, has unearthed some German Federal Health Ministry records of secret meetings between civil servants and Grünenthal, with a view to bringing the proceedings to a close with much lower compensation than had been claimed.

The then Minister of Justice, who intervened in the case in support of the pharmaceutical company, betrayed an obvious conflict of interest. Apart from that, this information has been hidden for decades from the uncompensated victims of the drug who live in other EU Member States. Does the Commission therefore intend to intervene so that the German Government admits its responsibilities and the flaws in the trial? Will the Commission ensure that the German Government takes action and makes an adequate economic contribution to the costs of healthcare and independent living which every European citizen who is a victim of this drug has to defray?

Original language of question: IT 
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