A British company has apologized in South Korea for the role its product played in around 100 deaths and other lung complaints. But families of the victims said the apology came "too late."
British multinational Reckitt Benckiser, known for producing sore throat medicine Strepsils and pain reliever Nurofen, apologized on Monday to the victims of its product Oxy RB, a sterilizer used to clean humidifiers.
"We have accepted full responsibility for the role that this product played in these health issues, including deaths, in [South] Korea," the company said in a statement.
"While we acknowledge that we cannot repair the harm that has been done, we have stated our continuing intention to do whatever we can to provide full resolution to these cases," it added.
In 2011, four pregnant women died after suffering from an unknown lung ailment, a series of incidents that brought attention to the product, reported South Korea's Yonhap news agency. A government-led investigation subsquently found that humidifiers cleaned using Oxy RB products were emitting chemicals linked to the deaths of over 100 people.
Reckitt Benckiser said it would establish a "compensation fund" to provide assistance to those "directly impacted" by the incident.
The company also pledged to create an additional "humanitarian fund" to support those "who believe they have been affected by the … issue, regardless of any indication of causation."
However, several of the victims' family members decried the apology at a press conference in the nation's capital Seoul.
"Do you think you can compensate my son's pain and suffering? My son has never been able to attend school because of his health condition," said a woman accompanied by her 14-year-old wheelchair-bound son, according to Yanhap.
A father of one of the victims also criticized the company's apology. "Why didn't you apologize in the first place? You are too late," the man shouted at the company's regional executive.