Australia apologizes to thalidomide survivors


Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese faces a thalidomide victim in Canberra, Australia, November 29, 2023.

On Wednesday, November 29, the Australian government presented an official apology to the victims of thalidomide, a drug that caused malformations in thousands of children around the world in the 1950s and 1960s.

“We owe an apology to Australian victims of thalidomide”declared the Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese, under the eyes of survivors present in the House of Representatives, on the occasion of the 62e anniversary of the withdrawal of this medicine from the market. “Today, Australia will finally apologize”he continued. “This apology addresses one of the darkest chapters in our history. »

Described at the time as a “miracle drug”, thalidomide was prescribed from 1956 as a sedative to relieve nausea in pregnant women. Widely used around the world, it had terrible effects on the embryo before it was withdrawn from the market in 1961: between 10,000 and 20,000 babies were born with missing arm or leg segments, hands or feet directly attached to the trunk.

Australian obstetrician William McBride was one of the first doctors to sound the alarm in 1961, noting that women were more likely to give birth to babies suffering from growth retardation or malformation after taking this medicine. According to the Australian government, around 150 thalidomide survivors benefit from the Australian support program.

The World with AFP



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