Thalidomide research guides recognition and compensation for survivors born with Thalidomide damage


Description of impact

Thalidomide was given to pregnant women around the world as a treatment for morning sickness in the 1960s, with the result that many miscarried or gave birth to malformed babies. It is still prescribed today for indications including multiple myeloma and complications of leprosy. The team at Aberdeen explored how – and crucially when – thalidomide disrupts limb formation and the range of other forms of damage caused by thalidomide. This research led to expert testimony in a landmark class action lawsuit in Australia in which 107 claimants were compensated over AUD100,000,000. Expert opinion based on the research has influenced international government policy to support thalidomide survivors and identification of hitherto unrecognised people damaged by thalidomide in Canada, Australia and Italy.

Outcomes to Date / Future Developments

For decades, the legacy of the thalidomide tragedy has imposed upon the survivors and their families' lives filled with difficulty, pain and discrimination, in some cases without recognition or support. The Aberdeen research findings led to several impacts, including helping to identify and compensate thalidomide survivors, influencing international government responses by informing guidance for thalidomide embryopathy identification, and enhancing understanding of the effects of thalidomide.
Impact statusImpact Completed (Open)
Impact date20082020


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