Hundreds of people have applied for a thalidomide pension – often without success. Research now shows that the foundation may have made some unlawful decisions.
Frankfurt – It was one of the biggest drug scandals in the history of the Federal Republic of Germany: The thalidomide scandal still occupies many people today. Taking it during pregnancy caused severe side effects, including nerve damage and malformations in newborns.
To this day, many sufferers try to obtain a thalidomide pension. However, a corresponding foundation, which decides on the allocation of these funds, has rejected numerous applications in recent years. Now, research by NDR, WDR and the Süddeutsche Zeitung reveals that many decisions may be illegal.
Hundreds of applications rejected: Decision on thalidomide pension illegal?
The over-the-counter sleeping pill and sedative was marketed by Grünenthal between 1957 and 1961. At that time, it was also taken against morning sickness. A single tablet was enough to cause severe malformations in the embryo, NDR reported. When the side effects became public, the pharmaceutical company stopped selling them. Thousands of babies were born with deformities, and many died at or shortly after birth.
Others suffer from the side effects to this day. They are actually entitled to a lifelong monthly payment, the so-called thalidomide pension. "Persons whose mothers have taken thalidomide-containing preparations from Grünenthal GmbH during pregnancy or whose malformations can be associated with them are eligible," the Contergan Foundation said. According to Grünenthal, about 2400 victims live in Germany.
The sleeping pill and sedative Contergan is on display in a display case in the Deutsches Museum. The drug caused numerous malformations in newborns. © Frank Leonhardt/dpa
However, not all those affected apparently receive compensation. As NDR reported, numerous applications have been rejected in recent years. Since 2009, almost 1000,120 applications have been submitted, but only about <> have been approved. Research has now shown that there have been serious procedural errors in the examination of many cases.
Thalidomide pension: Foundation's proceedings raise doubts
According to Karin Buder, the lawyer of one of the victims, legal requirements are said to have been disregarded, wrote the NDR. The law stipulates that a commission of at least five members will examine the applications. The commission is chaired by lawyers, the other members must be medical experts. In addition, medical reports must be obtained in case of doubt.
In the case of Buder's client, only a lawyer decided which expert opinions were necessary. According to the information, the lawyer also decided on his own whether or not it was a thalidomide damage. However, this is contrary to the legal regulations.
House search and with one leg in prison: This is known about climate glue spokeswoman Carla Hinrichs
Insider shows secret cemetery in Europa-Park with real graves
After double murder in Ludwigshafen – district court acquits perpetrator (26)
Student launches revenge campaign against bicycle thief – "hope to see you again, you a***"
Trigema boss Grupp insists on presence: "The one I could send to the home office is unimportant"
Fancy a voyage of discovery?
According to the Thalidomide Foundation, their procedure was lawful, it was said at the request of NDR, WDR and SZ. The organisation acknowledged, however, that the chairman alone decided to whom the applications were submitted. The commission then examines whether thalidomide damage has occurred. If there is no unanimous verdict, the vote of the majority will decide, it said. This practice was most recently found to be correct by the Administrative Court of Cologne.
Hundreds of thalidomide cases illegal? Court to decide by the end of the year
The Higher Administrative Court in Münster may see it differently. A decision obtained by NDR, WDR and SZ shows that many applications have not been examined in accordance with the law. The examination of the foundation "according to the current state of affairs, probably does not meet the legal requirements," it said. If this suspicion is confirmed, hundreds of applications are likely to be reopened. Those affected could therefore regain new hope.
Buder expects a decision by the end of the year. But politicians don't want to wait that long. All parties want to revise the law that regulates the work of the Contergan Foundation. Meanwhile, the shortage of medicines in Germany is coming to a head. Currently, 35 percent of Germans have problems buying medicines. (kas)