What was the global impact of thalidomide? On September 24th, the Department of History, the Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies/Disability Studies, and the Institute of African Studies at Carleton University came together to host two speakers to Ottawa as part of a day-long meeting on the transnational history of the infamous drug thalidomide. Developed by the German company Chemie Grünenthal GmbH, the drug was officially marketed from the mid-1950s to the early to mid-1960s under dozens of brand names. Dr. Susanne Klausen, medical historian and organizer of the event, pointed out in her introduction that thalidomide was a “drug in search of a disease.” However, while pharmaceuticals marketed the drug as a cure for many symptoms, it has gained its notorious reputation because of its use as a remedy for morning sickness in pregnant women. Although the drug was advertised as being “completely safe,” it caused severe birth defects – including deformed and/or absent organs, phocomelia, and several other life threatening deformities – in children whose pregnant mothers had taken the drug during the first trimester of pregnancy.
For the rest of Christine Chisholm’s blog go to activehistory.ca/2014/10/thinking-about-thalidomide-in-transnational-history-canada-and-south-africa/