Thalidomide: A Wonder Drug

It is 50 years since thalidomide was first introduced on to the UK market as a cure for morning sickness. Those affected by the drug are still fighting for compensation – while others are fighting to access the drug.

Some 10,000 babies were born with deformities after their mothers took the drug – sometimes just once – while pregnant.

The majority were born in Germany, where the pill was invented. Apparently a wonder drug, it was initially seen as a good news story in a country rebuilding itself after the devastation of war.

But the high was short-lived. By 1961, it had been withdrawn from sale after evidence of severe side-effects. The company involved, Grunenthal, paid just over 100m Deutschmarks – the equivalent of about £100m in today’s money – into a compensation fund for those affected.

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  • alexine

    Why on earth would this pregnant woman risk taking Thalidomide for her ulcers??? With only two months to go…I don’t get it at all! She managed to suffer through it before discovering Thalidomide so why during pregnancy?? Selfish daft woman and even more daft doctors!!

  • megan

    Alexine, it is not that i disagree with you and I wouldn’t do it. However, any of those birth defects that the children have, appear, to be from very early on in the pregnancy, makes sense given the fact it was invented for morning sickness. Perhaps the drug poses no threat at 7-8 months. I am not saying that is the case but it is plausible.

  • alexine

    @megan They made it obvious they didn’t know why or how Thalidomide works. Why on earth would you take any risk during pregnancy with this drug especially with it’s track record?? Maybe it’s okay is not enough Megan…. That woman was very lucky that her son didn’t suffer any cognitive impairments (that they know of now) as a result of taking Thalidomide. Crazy and very irresponsible of her doctors.

  • Rosie

    Alexine, I agree that it’s crazy irresponsible, but can you honestly say that you wouldn’t be tempted if you had a “palm sized genital ulcer” and your doctor seemed confident when prescribing it?