Thalidomide

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Thalidomide (pronounced /θəˈlɪdəmaɪd/) was introduced as a sedative drug in the late 1950s. In 1961, it was withdrawn due to teratogenicity and neuropathy. There is now a growing clinical interest in thalidomide, and it is introduced as an immunomodulatory agent used primarily, combined with dexamethasone, to treat multiple myeloma. The drug is a potent teratogen in zebrafish, chickens,[2] rabbits and primates including humans: severe birth defects may result if the drug is taken during pregnancy.[3]

Thalidomide was sold in a number of countries across the world from 1957 until 1961 when it was withdrawn from the market after being found to be a cause of birth defects in what has been called "one of the biggest medical tragedies of modern times".[4] It is not known exactly how many worldwide victims of the drug there have been, although estimates range from 10,000 to 20,000.[5] Since then thalidomide has been found to be a valuable treatment for a number of medical conditions and it is being prescribed again in a number of countries, although its use remains controversial.[6][7] The thalidomide tragedy led to much stricter testing being required for drugs and pesticides before they can be licensed.[8]

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