(Questions and answers)

What is thalidomide?


The drug ‘Thalidomide’ was mainly prescribed to pregnant women for morning sickness in the late 50s and early 60s. Instead, the drug caused severe deformities in babies with missing limbs.

How many babies were born worldwide?

They is today an estimated 12,000 thalidomide survivors worldwide and 458 in the UK, however a further 7,500 died within the first couple.

Could thalidomide happen again?

Thalidomide babies are still being born worldwide today especially in the third world. In Brazil, approximately eight hundred babies have been born since 1985.


Is Thalidomide UK part of the Thalidomide Trust, NAC or Society?

NO - Thalidomide UK is an advisory, monitoring and a campaign group. We are the only thalidomide group in the UK that is managed by the survivors of the drug thalidomide. We were founded in October 1993 and are the newest group. Thalidomide UK was involved with all the payout that has been made since 1993.

Thalidomide Trust - The aim of the Trust is to provide relief and assistance for those people born, in the United Kingdom, damaged because of their mothers having taken the drug Thalidomide (as manufactured by Distillers Biochemicals Limited) during their pregnancy.

The Thalidomide Society - The Thalidomide Society founded in the United Kingdom in 1962 by parents of thalidomide-impaired children in order to help and support the affected families and to campaign for public support and recognition of what had happened. The Society currently supports thalidomide and similarly impaired people by providing advice and information.

Can thalidomide can past on through generations?

Thalidomide UK backs more research on whether thalidomide can be past on through generations. It is important to remember that the thalidomide children of the sixties have grown-up and many have become parents themselves. They is approximately four hundred children born to thalidomide parent(s) with only ten ever been reported with birth defects. Some of these cases were mild were others were more severe.

There is no medical evidence whatsoever on whether thalidomide can past on through generations.

 In the British Sunday Mirror of July 3 1994, ('Thalidomide dad's tragedy'), it was reported that the babies of six young men who were born deformed because of thalidomide have also been born with malformed limbs. Two of the babies have almost identical deformities to their fathers. Obstetrician Dr William McBride, whom first warned against thalidomide in 1961, has called on doctors to study children of victims and report back to determine the scale of the tragedy. He says there are second generation victims in Germany, Japan and Bolivia as well as Britain.

Despite all the clinical evidence to the contrary, British health authorities such as the Medical Research Council maintain that the vast bulk of evidence from laboratory and animal tests is against thalidomide having any genetic effects. In fact, thalidomide apologists still adhere to the defence that the thalidomide tragedy could not have been predicted, mainly because the drug had not been tested specifically for birth defects before being marketed, as at the time it was not required by law.


Some argue that the thalidomide tragedy was not an example of an animal-tested drug which proved disastrous for humans, but of the dishonesty and sharp practices of the pharmaceutical industry. This view is based upon the fact that the animal tests carried out by the inventor of the drug, the West German pharmaceutical company Chemie Grünenthal, were very superficial and incomplete, their clinical trials were hastily done and questionable, and that prior to the introduction of thalidomide Grünenthal did not carry out animal tests specifically to demonstrate teratogenic (malformation causing) effects.
However, it is evident that the human birth deformities caused by thalidomide was the result of misleading results from animal experimentation as well as the dishonesty of drug companies. The original animal tests by Chemie Grünenthal did not show indications of side-effect, and furthermore, in several European countries, including England and Sweden, the licensees of thalidomide carried out their own animal tests, independently from the German firm, but still arrived at the same results as Chemie Grünenthal.


Thalidomide UK supports research into generation.