The German firm which made thalidomide has issued an apology for the first time to victims of the drug.
In the 1950s, thousands of children were born with severe birth defects after their mothers took the drug to counter morning sickness.
Speaking at the unveiling of a statue to victims, Gruenenthal’s chief executive, Harold Stock, said its long silence was a sign of shock.
“We ask for your forgiveness because for nearly 50 years we didn’t find a way of reaching out to you. Instead we’ve been silent and we are very sorry for that,” he said.
Some campaigners have welcomed the firm’s comments but many say the company hasn’t gone far enough and should be offering financial compensation to people affected around the world.
It is thought between 5,000 and 6,000 sufferers are still alive. Several governments around the world have paid them compensation.
But it remains unclear whether Gruenenthal will accept full responsibility, which could open the way to them being further challenged in the courts.