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Hagens Berman: German Drug Manufacturer's Apology for Thalidomide Tragedy Decried as Attempt to Deny Responsibility

SEATTLE, Sept. 4, 2012 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- An attorney representing a group of thalidomide victims today decried a recent apology by the German manufacturer of the drug, casting doubt over the motivations of the public statement.

Grunenthal CEO Harald Stock made the apology as part of a speech he gave late last week, saying the drug company expresses its "sincere regrets about the consequences of thalidomide and our deep sympathy for all those affected."

Steve Berman, an attorney representing a group of Americans suing the company and other companies that distributed the drug in the United States, said the statement "is a ham-handed attempt to avoid taking meaningful responsibility for its actions."

"If Stock and Grunenthal were truly concerned about the victims of thalidomide, it would immediately turn over what we believe are volumes of documents that detail the company's attempt to sell this insidious drug in the United States," Berman added.

The suits alleges that Grunenthal, in cooperation with American companies Smith, Kline and French, now GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE: GSK), and Merrell Richardson, now Sanofi-Aventis (NYSE: SNY), hid evidence of thalidomide distribution in the United States in the late 1950s, lying to Congress and creating a false narrative that the drug was blocked by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

According to court documents, Grunenthal and its marketing partners disguised the distribution of thalidomide as a "clinical trial," dumping more than 2.5 million doses of the drug in the United States, a number far higher than previously stated by the drug companies.

The drug causes severe birth defects, including missing organs and deformed limbs, yet was prescribed for pregnant women as a cure for morning sickness, resulting in thousands of deformed babies born throughout Europe in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

"Grunenthal and its co-conspirators spent more than half a century denying culpability for the extreme suffering it caused thousands upon thousands of victims worldwide," Berman noted.

"Grunenthal needs to work with thalidomide victims in Britain, Spain, Canada, and the U.S., and establish an open and fair compensation process for individuals who have suffered their entire lives because of Grunenthal's greed and negligence," Berman added.

Hagens Berman invites Americans who believe they may have been exposed to thalidomide in utero to contact the firm by calling (206) 623-7292 or via email at Thalidomide@hbsslaw.com.

More information about these lawsuits is available at www.hbsslaw.com/Thalidomide.

About Hagens Berman

Seattle-based Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP represents plaintiffs in complex litigation. The firm has offices in Boston, Chicago, Colorado Springs, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New York, Phoenix, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. Founded in 1993, HBSS continues to successfully fight for the rights of plaintiffs in large, complex litigation. More about the law firm and its successes can be found at www.hbsslaw.com. Visit the firm's class-action law blog at www.classactionlawtoday.com.

The Hagens Berman, LLP logo is available at http://www.globenewswire.com/newsroom/prs/?pkgid=7777

CONTACT: Mark Firmani Firmani + Associates Inc. 206.443.9357 or mark@firmani.com

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