Thalidomide, still in Ireland and other countries…surely not?

Teratogen: Any agent that can disturb the development of an embryo or fetus. Teratogens may cause a birth defect in the child or a teratogen may halt the pregnancy outright. The classes of teratogens include radiation, maternal infections, chemicals, and drugs.

O.k. so I know I’m going off track but I have come across some information from the Irish Medicines Board today about Thalidomide and can’t believe this poison is still being licenced in Europe. I had thought (along with most people) that this drug was banned years ago when it was found to have devastating teratogenic effects, leaving an estimated 10,000 to 20,000 babies with malformed limbs in it’s wake.

Thalidomide’s side effects are not limited to missing limbs. Thalidomide is linked to the deaths of 2000 babies in the UK alone. Irish victims are still fighting for their right to adequate compensation up to the present day and have been treated disgracefully by the Irish government, who don’t forget allowed this drug to stay on the market for a further seven months after it was advised that it was causing birth defects. Link 

Thalidomide victims debate in the Dail, 18 December 1974…Link

Wikipedia states that thalidomide has been called “one of the biggest medical tragedies of modern times”… Wiki

Thalidomide is quite possibly the most notorious drug of all time and is being prescribed again for various conditions including leprosy, and Multiple myeloma (cancer of the blood) in Ireland and in other countries.

The Irish Medicines board published a “Dear healthcare professional” letter today, (31th may 2011) warning of other side effects with this drug. It’s from the UK manufacturers of Thalidomide (the Celgene corporation) and the letter is about important new safety information concerning thalidomide and more possible side-effects…

“Patients treated with thalidomide have an increased risk of arterial thromboembolism, including myocardial infarction and cerebrovascular events, in addition to the established risk of venous thromboembolism”. Translated, this means that patients treated with thalidomide are more likely to have a blood clot in an artery, heart attack or stroke and all of which can prove to be fatal. IMB letter…Link

It would surely beg a few questions, exactly what does it take to get a drug banned in this country? Has it got miraculous powers with leprosy and Multiple myeloma which could possibly explain why this drug is active again? Why on earth are peoples lives being risked again in 2011?

The letter also states “Adverse events (and cases of suspected or confirmed pregnancy and foetal exposure) should be reported“.

Surely not? Must be just a bad dream!

 


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