The Thalidomide affair remains one of the darkest chapters in the history of medicine. Belatedly proven to be a teratogenic drug, its distribution led to a worldwide human catastrophe, leaving an estimated 80,000 deaths and 20,000 born with severe impairments, which include foreshortened limbs, damaged organs and nerves, multiple congenital conditions, heart conditions, microtia and blindness.
Created and marketed for mass consumption, Thalidomide did not undergo the rigid clinicxal testing required before the launching of any pharaceutical. It was later discovered that no laboratory tests were ever conducted to ascertain the effects of thalidomide on the embryo.
This work focuses mainly on the distribution and use, as well as the human repercussions, of this drug in the Maltese context, and seeks to address the following questions: What led to the introduction of Thalidomide in Malta? What factors led to the delay in banning Thalidomide circulation in Malta? Why did this continued use and the catastrophic human repercussions it left remain hidden by officialdom in Malta?