Thalidomide:1956-62

Discussion in 'History' started by Flight From Ashiya, May 29, 2007.

  1. Flight From Ashiya

    Flight From Ashiya Senior Member

    The tragedy of Thalidomide has no winners but has heroes & villians.
    The heroes are the victims themselves who have led fulfilling & inspiring lives.The next heroes are: Harold Evans & Philip Knightley who launched the pioneering 'Sunday Times' campaign in 1972 for proper compensation from the obstinate multi-million 'Distillers Company'.Frances Kelsey who stopped Thalidomide from being distributed freely in the United States when under severe pressure from the frustrated drug distributors.Ralph Nader who was first to battle for adequate compensation in the U.S.
    German Doctor Widikind Lens who was the first to report the abnormalities caused by the drug in November 1961 followed by Australian Doctor William McBride in December 1961.


    The villians are the German pharmaceutical firm:Chemie Grunenthal that developed & marketed the drug in 1955 with inadequate tests & the British Distillers company that distributed it in Britain but refused to pay adequate compensation in 1968.Richardson-Merrell the U.S. company that applied six times for approval from the FDA to distrubute 'Kevadon'-their Thalidomide brand-name,but turned down by Kelsey.Unpeturbed,they still distributed the drug in 'trials' causing the first American victims.

    The appalling heartbreaking tragedy of Thalidomide occured in a period considered to be the highly prosperous 'good times' of the late fifties & early sixties;a terrifying blight on the times many associate now with nostalgia.The drug is even resurfacing today as a controversial treatment for Leprosy.

    Thalidomide is a compound that is derived from glutamic acid & phthalic acid.Discovered in West Germany in 1953 it appeared to be 'safe' in high doses when tested on animals.In October 1957 it was on sale in Germany under the brand name:'Contergan'.Soon it was on sale in 47 other countries under 37 brand names as a sedative,sleeping tablet & cure for morning sickness.
    It was made available in Britain under various names including: 'Distaval'-prescribed as sleeping pills.It was given to pregnant women with sleep disorders & morning after sickness.It was causing;'Phocomelia' in the foetus- limb deformities in the new born babies.Some babies had no limbs at all or fingers & toes without arms & legs or deformed limbs that resembled flippers.In was withdrawn in Britain in November 1961 around the time of McBride's warnings in 'The Lancet'.The damage had alredy been done:The first count of its casualities reported:eek:ver 400 in Britain,2,600 in Germany,1,000 in Japan,39 in Australia,8 in New Zealand-plus Canada,Ireland etc.
    Eventually 10,000 children's lives had been ruined by this drug.
    Many of them are alive today & leading remarkable & successful lives just as the heartbreak & anger still remains about innocent people whose lives were wrecked by the irresponsibilities of others.

    It has now become part of modern folklore in Britain of how 'The Sunday Times' launched a crusade of moral conscience with a series of articles beginning on Sunday 24th September 1972 with this two-page broadsheet:'Our Thalidomide Children:a cause for National Shame'.
    The British distributor;'Distillers' had marketed Thalidomide from 1958 to 1961; had assets of £421 million & an annual profit of £62 million but had offered £3 million as compensation.
    After the catalyst of Harold Evans' 'Sunday Times' campaign a long drawn out public & legal battle ensued against 'Distillers'.They finally offered £30 million.

    Money does not lessen the disabilities or damage done to the victims but considering many could not physically earn a living it provided for their needs to this day.
     
  2. trekker

    trekker Intrepid Traveler

    I first heard about the Thalidimide disaster in highschool. It is very sad to think of the pain and suffering. I had a baseball coach in little leage who had a flipper like arm, caused by Thalidimide. It used to disturb me alot as a child seeing it. God bless the people who were born with diformities. My heart goes out to them.
     
  3. JugoConFuego

    JugoConFuego Member

    Thalidomide child: one of the best insults
    troglidite, another
     

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