Isn’t it a Pity

Isn’t it a Pity is a beautiful George Harrison Song that I’ve loved for decades. For me, it’s an observation rather than a criticism of human frailty; the inability to conduct life with compassion, dignity and humility.

After a lifetime of not commenting publicly about the Thalidomide Disaster, I believe it’s now time to add my voice to the chorus of people around the world who call for the Wirtz Family to become exemplary corporate citizens.

Until this day occurs, I will never buy any Grunenthal product.


The Thalidomide Disaster…an explanation

Thalidomide was invented by Chemnie Grunenthal in post-World War II Germany and released onto the market as a sedative in October 1957. It was soon evident that the drug was a neurotoxin – regular use killed nerves which led to peripheral neuritis; loss of sensation in the extremities (hands, feet etc).

As a result, Thalidomide was restricted and required a prescription. During this time the Grunenthal Marketing department set about promoting the drug to pregnant women citing its anti-nausea properties.

In 1961, Thalidomide was withdrawn from the market worldwide after causing peripheral nerve damage in 50,000 patients and 10,000 cases of birth defects.

Grunenthal fought the German survivors’ families in the courts for nine years. It was the longest trial in German history since the Nuremburg trials. They have compensated few survivors leaving many worldwide to a lifetime of struggle and misery.

The Wirtz family, who established and own Grunenthal, have purportedly become one of Germanys’ most wealthy dynasties.

Fifty odd years later there are just 5,000 Thalidomide survivors left.

Isn’t it a Pity…


Brett Nielsen

July 2015