Aussie women used as guinea-pigs for Thalidomide

Pregnant Australian women were used in world-first trials of the notorious morning sickness pill thalidomide before it was tested on animals, it’s been reported.

Documents from thalidomide distributor Distillers Company (Biochemicals) show Australian women were used in trials of its drug Distaval in 1960.

Trials took place on pregnant women at Sydney’s Crown Street Women’s and Royal Prince Alfred hospitals from May 1960, with other trials in Melbourne and Adelaide, although it’s unclear if pregnant women in those cities took part, the report says.

A 1962 letter written by a Distillers executive also confirms that “no tests were carried out in pregnant animals before Distaval was marketed”, it says.

In 1961, malformed babies were born in Australia as a result of the trials, as well as over-the-counter sales and prescription sales, which began in 1960.

The documents also show Distillers kept promoting the drug to GPs and pushing to include it on Australia’s Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme despite warnings from a Sydney obstetrician, who said patients of his who’d been taking thalidomide had produced malformed or dead babies, the report says.

The files are contained in an affidavit lodged in the Victorian Supreme Court by law firm Slater & Gordon as part of a compensation claim by Melbourne thalidomide victim Lynette Rowe.

by Vandas Voice



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