Victims of the thalidomide disaster

This inherently terrifying case is the most striking example of the consequences of taking untested drugs in the history of mankind. The "thalidomide disaster" that claimed the lives and maimed tens of thousands of children was the starting point for tougher licensing of medicines around the world.

In 1954, the drug Thalidomide was developed by the German pharmaceutical company Chemie Grünenthal. It is based on peptide antibiotics. At first, experts assumed that the drug would be an effective and inexpensive anticonvulsant drug. But in the course of clinical trials, it turned out that in fact it is an excellent sleeping pill and sedative medicine.

Therapists all over the world were under a very strong impression, because the drug revealed side effects and showed its best side. Representatives of the manufacturing company were able to obtain a license for the production of thalidomide and its distribution, thanks to its safe and low cost.

In 1957, the drug went on sale in Germany. And the next year, it was already sold under 37 names in 45 countries around the world. No additional research has been conducted anywhere else. In the same year, thalidomide was advertised as the best medicine for pregnant and lactating mothers from toxicosis and prenatal anxiety.

But no one paid attention to the fact that on December 25, 1956, a girl without ears was born. This happened in the family of one of the Chemie Grünenthal employees who was giving his pregnant wife the drug. And by 1961, a catastrophe broke out: the number of babies with congenital deformities increased significantly.

As a result of the proceedings, the nightmarish consequences of the use of thalidomide by pregnant women were revealed. The drug literally mutilated the embryo. 40% of children born after taking the drug have not lived even a year. And the survivors are distinguished by external defects. The most common is the complete absence of limbs or their underdevelopment.

It was found that in the period from 1956 to 1962 in a number of countries around the world, according to various estimates, from 8, 000 to 12, 000 children were born with congenital malformations due to the fact that mothers took thalidomide drugs during pregnancy. Thalidomide tragedy has forced many countries to rethink existing drug licensing practices, tightening requirements for licensed drugs

Currently, this drug is used, but for the treatment of cancer, multiple myeloma and leprosy. Manufacturers have had to develop sophisticated safety and training systems that include strict controls over prescribing physicians and patients. In particular, patients are obliged to use the maximum reinforced contraception and are prohibited from donating blood and sperm.