The FDA And Thalidomide - August 1962.


(Thalidomide - when wonder drugs went awful)

One of the bigger scandals to hit the pharmaceutical industry came in the form of Thalidomide, a drug marketed throughout Europe in the late 1950's as sedative, pain killer and a morning sickness preventative for pregnant women.

Only it wasn't. By 1960 the drug was widely available throughout the world (even as an over-the-counter item in Germany) and the horrible side effects came to light. Children born with an alarming number of birth defects, most in the area of gross deformities.

By 1961, the FDA instituted a recall of Thalidomide and banned its use. But the question was, why did the FDA take so long to make these horrific discoveries and why did they wait almost a year to get them off the market?

As a result, the FDA utilized more stringent testing - although judging from the amount of drug recalls and related scandals the past several years, it would give pause to the idea that the system is foolproof.

Oddly enough, Thalidomide has made something of a comeback in recent years, not as a antidote for morning sickness but as a treatment for skin lesions and multiple Myeloma and other cancer forms.

This interview, from the ABC Sunday series "From The Capitol" from August 12, 1962 features George P. Larrick, Commissioner of the FDA talking about the Thalidomide scandal and the FDA's role in public safety.

It would be nice if we were out of the woods over future Thalidomide scandals. But that's not likely.


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