Thalidomide: the drug with a dark side but an enigmatic future

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle


The drug thalidomide has a notorious past. It was used between 1957-62 as a sedative and to treat morning sickness in early pregnancy but a serious side effect resulted in over 10,000 children born with severe birth defects.

How the drug caused these defects, which could affect most parts of the body and includes phocomelia – where the limbs are shortened and missing the long bones with the digits in some cases extruding from the shoulder or the hip – is becoming clearer.
Original languageEnglish
Specialist publicationThe Conversation
PublisherThe Conversation UK
Publication statusPublished - 10 Dec 2015

Bibliographical note

Neil Vargesson receives or has received funding for thalidomide research from the Wellcome Trust, the Royal Society, University of Aberdeen, Imperial College London.


  • Cancer
  • India
  • Brazil
  • Thalidomide
  • Crohn's disease
  • Leprosy
  • Thalidomide series


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