Also Known As: Thalidomide, Thalomid
Thalidomide was introduced as a sedative drug in the late 1950s that was typically used to treat the symptoms of morning sickness. It was sold in a number of countries across the world from 1957 until 1961, when it was withdrawn from the market after being found to be a cause of birth defects in what has been called "one of the biggest medical tragedies of modern times".
There is now a growing clinical interest in thalidomide, and it has been found to be effective in combination with dexamethasone to treat multiple myeloma. It is also used to treat erythema nodosum leprosum, a complication of leprosy, with strict controls on its use to prevent birth defects. Research is ongoing in its use to treat other cancers and autoimmune conditions, although its use, including its testing in the developing world, remains controversial. The thalidomide tragedy led to much stricter testing being required for drugs and pesticides before they can be licensed.