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 By 1961, it had been withdrawn from sale after evidence of severe side-effects.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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