Thalidomide chronology

2014 Since the hardship case initiative was started, the Grünenthal Foundation has approved more than 300 applications. The payments made by the German Contergan Foundation exceed the amount of EUR 600 million.
2013 Grünenthal organized the first Round Table with representatives of German Thalidomide associations and individuals.
December 2012 Grünenthal establishes the company-owned Grünenthal Foundation for the support of thalidomide-affected people (Grünenthal Foundation)
August 31, 2012 Grünenthal CEO, Harald F. Stock, PhD., apologized on behalf of the company, its employees and shareholders for the fact that the company has not found the way to reach out to those affected from person to person for almost 50 years.
June 2011 Grünenthal started the “hardship initiative”. In cases of a hardship, those affected by thalidomide (particularly those affected by a Grünenthal product) can apply for support to fund non-cash benefits focusing on mobility and adaptations of houses and apartments.
2010 About EUR 500 million has been paid out to thalidomide victims to date.
July 2009 Grünenthal transfers the voluntary sum of EUR 50 million to the German Contergan Foundation. As a result, in addition to a monthly pension individuals affected by a thalidomide product from Grünenthal can receive annual payments. The pension and special payments are provided regardless of any other social benefits thalidomide victims receive.
May 2008 Grünenthal announced that the company intends to voluntarily pay EUR 50 million into the German Contergan Foundation to facilitate additional annual payments to those affected. Thalidomide associations value this plan as an important step in the right direction.
February 2008 Grünenthal works with the German government and the German Federal Association of Thalidomide Victims towards a collaborative solution to improve the lives of thalidomide victims.
December 2007 First meeting between Grünenthal and representatives of the German Federal Association of Thalidomide Victims.
December 2005 As thalidomide victims are now adults, the Disabled Children's Relief Foundation is renamed Contergan Foundation for People with Disabilities.
June 2003 Grünenthal stops supplying thalidomide. At the request of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Grünenthal had been supplying thalidomide tablets since the 1970s to support leprosy hospitals in the treatment of a leprosy complication called ENL reaction. Strict conditions applied in order to prevent thalidomide from being given to pregnant women. Grünenthal supplied the drug on a not-for-profit basis.
1998 - present Other companies distribute thalidomide in order to meet the medical need.
1990s Scientists discover that thalidomide has anti-inflammatory effects on the immune system and inhibits the formation of new blood vessels. The drug is used to treat severe illnesses including AIDS and cancer.
1972 The West German government enacts a law setting up a public foundation called Disabled Children's Relief Foundation.
The government paid DM 100 million (approx. EUR 50 million) into the Foundation and Grünenthal contributed DM 114 million (approx. EUR 58 million). Grünenthal is granted immunity against any other claims.
December 18, 1970 The case against Grünenthal is discontinued.
April 1970 While criminal proceedings are still ongoing, Grünenthal begins negotiations with representatives of those affected and voluntarily pledges to pay DM 100 million (approx. EUR 50 million) to thalidomide victims according to an agreed settlement.
May 27, 1968 Legal proceedings are instigated against nine Grünenthal executives and research employees in Alsdorf near Aachen.
1964 An Israeli physician, Jacob Sheskin, discovers thalidomide's effectiveness in treating leprosy.
1962 Scientists succeed for the first time in demonstrating teratogenicity of the active drug substance thalidomide in animal experiments in white New Zealand rabbits.
November 27, 1961 Grünenthal withdraws thalidomide from the West German market.
November 15–26, 1961 A Hamburg-based paediatrician, Dr. Widukind Lenz, voices the first suspicion that deformities in unborn children may be associated with thalidomide, first in a telephone conversation and then by letter. On Friday, November 24, 1961, Grünenthal received a letter from the UK-based licensee, Distillers. Distillers said that an Australian gynaecologist (later identified as Dr. William McBride) had raised with them his concern about a potential teratogenic effect of thalidomide.
1961 Grünenthal amends the package leaflet disclosing the side effects and applies for a step-by-step prescription-only status for thalidomide in selected German federal states in May 1961 on account of its potential to cause polyneuropathy.
October 1959 First reports suggesting thalidomide might cause nerve damage in the hands and feet (polyneuropathy).
October 1, 1957 Thalidomide is launched on the West German market and sold under the brand name Contergan.
Until withdrawn, thalidomide was sold in a total of 46 countries under various brand names.
1954 Grünenthal obtains a patent for thalidomide, the active drug substance in the product called Contergan in Germany.
Until the mid-1950s There are no regulations in the Federal Republic of Germany governing the development, production or sale of medicines. There is no German Drug Law/Medicines Act and no Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices (BfArM) or similar agency.