Medicine: The Thalidomide Disaster

Appalling reports continued to roll in. So far as is known, close to 8,000 babies have been born deformed because their mothers used a sleeping-pill-tranquilizer called thalidomide (TIME, Feb. 23). All this added up to the greatest prescription disaster in medical history. Thanks to the intuition of the Food and Drug Administration's Dr. Frances Kelsey,* the U.S. has got off lightly because the drug was never licensed for general use. In the half dozen reported U.S. cases of birth malformations due to thalidomide, the drug was obtained from abroad. Even so, the testing...

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