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Thalidomiders disappointed by government response

It was supposed to be a harmless sedative for expectant mothers, but instead thalidomide caused thousands of babies around the world, including more than a hundred in Canada, to be born with severe birth defects. The Canadian government failed to warn the public of its dangers, and promised to compensate the thalidomide victims; it took almost 30 years for the government to deliver on that promise.

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In April 1989, Canadian thalidomide victims are disappointed with the response of the minister of health to the War Amps report. Health Minister Perrin Beatty says the government is not ready to act on the report seeking a special compensation package for thalidomide victims, separate and apart from other persons with disabilities.
• Thalidomide was never marketed in the United States, largely due to the efforts of Dr. Frances Kelsey, M.D., Ph.D., a Canadian doctor working at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Kelsey's skepticism of the drug kept thalidomide out of American pharmacies. However, approximately 2.5 million sample tablets were handed out in the United States for "clinical trials." There are reliable estimates that 17 thalidomiders were born, of which 10 individuals survive today.

• The Canadian thalidomide disaster was given considerable coverage in the United States, including pieces in People magazine, on the Phil Donahue show and on the Public Broadcasting Service.
Medium: Television
Program: The National
Broadcast Date: April 18, 1989
Guest(s): Perrin Beatty, Cliff Chadderton, Marie Olney
Host: Peter Mansbridge
Reporter: Julie Van Dusen
Duration: 2:13

Last updated: November 28, 2014

Page consulted on November 28, 2014

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