It didn’t take long until Grünenthal began to receive reports about the side effects from Thalidomide: Thousands of documented cases of nerve damage and even worse, reports of babies born with malformations were noted and many brought to Grünenthal’s attention.
Those reports seemed not to matter to Grünenthal. They were ignored, belittled and sometimes even mocked.
Instead of withdrawing Thalidomide from the market, Grünenthal kept reassuring doctors, pharmacists and patients that their drug was safe, pocketing higher and higher profits. Pregnant women continued to take it.
As a result tens of thousands babies were aborted and at least 10,000 babies were born with severe malformations around the world. Many of them had short arms or legs, or no arms or legs at all. Many were blind or deaf, or had severe damage to their brains or organs. Thousands died at birth or shortly after, only about 5000 survived. All this caused untold suffering to thousands of families of the malformed survivors.
It was only after an article in a German newspaper published concerns that had been brought to their attention about the drug that Grünenthal finally took the drug off the market in November 1961.