Television review – Happy Birthday Thalidomide

This programme was presented by Mat Fraser, a fellow thalidomider,
who like many of us wanted answers about the return of the drug,
writes Freddie Astbury, president, Thalidomide UK, which is run by

Fraser briefly looked at the history of thalidomide, which was the
most powerful part of documentary. When the programme turned to its
use in Brazil, it alarmingly left many questions unanswered, such
as how many babies have been damaged?

Thalidomide can never be described as a wonder drug, because it is
not a cure for any of the diseases it is used to treat. In cancer
treatment it can prolong life for a couple of years, which I
suppose is why many patients see it this way. It is the cheapest
drug to make for leprosy which is why it’s popular in among poorer

The general view among thalidomiders is that in an ideal world
there would be no thalidomide. However, we live in the real world
and if the drug can help certain types of illnesses then it must be
used under very strict guidelines and as a last resort.

We are concerned that the pharmaceutical companies linked to
thalidomide may be more interested in the profits rather than the
safety aspect. The main question we are asked is: “Do we think
another baby will be damaged as a result of the drug being used?”
Our reply is it is not a matter of if, but when. 

– See

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