Thalidomide was created by a family-owned pharmaceutical company, Chemie Grünenthal (Thalidomide Victims Association of Canada, 2017). Chemie Grünenthal was the first company to introduce Penicillin into the German market in the 1940s while in the 1960s, it introduced Thalidomide into the market.
Chemie Grünenthal first obtained a twenty-year patent for Thalidomide in 1954 and subsequently started clinical trials for the drug.It is primarily prescribed as a sedative or hypnotic, thalidomide also claimed to cure “anxiety, insomnia, gastritis, and tension”. Researchers at the company soon found out that the drug was rather effective in relieving morning sickness for pregnant mothers. Thalidomide was then marketed as Contergan® in the German market and was taken by many expectant mothers.
Beside West Germany where Thalidomide was first invented, Thalidomide was also distributed in the UK as Distaval, in Canada, and in the United States albeit without much success due to disapproval by the US Food and Drug Administration.
II. Why is it important?
Thalidomide was promoted as a ‘wonder drug’ to treat a range of conditions including headaches, insomnia, and depression. It was popular because it was atoxic and so it was impossible to overdose on it (Thalidomide Society, N.A.). However, the drug was responsible for tetragonal deformities in children born after their mothers used it during pregnancies. Researchers later realized that the problem lied in the fact that thalidomide was being provided as a mixture of two different isomeric forms.
Thalidomide. (n.d.). Retrieved March 27, 2017, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thalidomide#Interactions
Lenz, W. (n.d.). THE HISTORY OF THALIDOMIDE. Retrieved March 27, 2017, from http://www.thalidomide.ca/history-of-thalidomide/
Pannikar, V. (n.d.). The Return of Thalidomide: New Uses and Renewed Concerns. Retrieved from http://www.who.int/lep/research/Thalidomide.pdf