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Thursday, January 14, 2010

British government finally apologizes for Thalidomide

Fifty years after Thalidomide was taken off the market in Great Britain, that country's government is finally owning up to its role in one of the most horrific disasters of modern medicine.

Thalidomide was a drug approved to combat the symptoms of morning sickness in pregnant women. And when I say "approved" I mean that the British government didn't perform proper tests on the drug to determine if it was, y'know, safe for both mothers and children. Thalidomide caused hundreds of birth defects throughout Great Britain because it hampered blood vessels from fully developing in the fetuses. Many children were born with vestigial limbs... or no limbs at all. A few had no eyes, among other severe problems.

In addition to the apology, the British government is allocating £20 million to help the hundreds of Thalidomide survivors living in the United Kingdom today.

By the way, although it's not used in cases of pregnancy, Thalidomide has begun to see renewed application in certain kinds of cancer.

(Thanks to Simon of Si-Napses for alerting readers on this side of the pond to this story.)