What is thalidomide?
Thalidomide is a sedative that was prescribed to treat insomnia & morning sickness in pregnant women from 1950's to 1960's. It is produced by a German pharmaceutical company called Grünenthal. Thalidomide caused multiple birth defects across more than 46 nations and affected well over 10,000 babies. The drug is still being produced today.
Thousands of babies were stillborn. Others were born with missing or abnormal limbs, feet or hands, often referred to as flippers. Other defects included abnormal or absent ears, heart and kidney problems, cleft palate, spinal cord defects and digestive system disorders. Many parents abandoned their newborns for fear of unknown future medical costs.
One of the most chilling aspects is the assertion that “in the immediate postwar years, a rogues’ gallery of wanted and convicted Nazis, mass murderers who had practiced their science in notorious death camps, ended up working at Grünenthal in the development of thalidomide.” One of the most reprehensible was chemist, Otto Ambros, an inventor of nerve gas, who had been convicted of mass murder at the Nuremburg trials but was subsequently freed.
The thalidomide disaster is one of the darkest episodes in pharmaceutical history. As of 2019, there are still numerous lawsuits in progress between the victims that are still alive, against the German Government & Grünenthal. The aging survivors who suffer the damages of this drug, are among some of the last victims of a Nazi war crime.