Thursday, August 02, 2012
By: J. D. Heyes
[NaturalNews] Newly uncovered documents reveal that pregnant Australian women were used as guinea pigs for the morning sickness drug thalidomide in a series of clinical tests some 50 years ago that left a number of children with substantial birth defects.
The 1960 Australian trials were the first for the thalidomide drug Distaval on pregnant women anywhere in the world, The Age, an Australian daily newspaper, reported recently.
The files, which came from thalidomide distributor Distillers Company (Biochemicals), “show Australian women were given Distaval before any tests had been done on pregnant laboratory animals to determine the effect of thalidomide on fetuses,” the paper said.
A letter written by a Distillers executive from September 1962 confirmed that “no tests were carried out in pregnant before Distaval was marketed.”
According to the documents, trials of the medication were conducted by obstetricians at Sydney’s Crown Street Women’s and Royal Prince Alfred hospitals beginning as early as May 1960. Hospitals in Melbourne and Adelaide conducted trials as well, but it isn’t clear pregnant women there received Distaval.
Additional records tell more of the story.
Some wanted it distributed more widely
A Distillers memo dated July 1960 records the receipt of “an urgent telegram from the Royal Melbourne Hospital requesting supplies of Distaval.” It also mentions “further success (of drug testing) with Royal Prince Alfred” in Sydney.
Records also show that the dangerous drug was being sold to the public beginning around August 1960; it was marketed with materials boasting of the drug’s “exceptional safety.”
Later, in 1961, deformed babies were being born to women who had taken the drug, as well as over-the-counter and prescription sales.