Thalidomide (Thalomid)

Photograph of Thalidomide (Thalomid) under the microscope.

Thalidomide was first used to treat insomnia and morning sickness during pregnancy in Europe during the late 1950s and early 1960s. By 1961, scientists had discovered that thalidomide stunted the growth of fetal arms and legs and thousands of European babies were afflicted with serious birth disorders because their mothers used the drug. On July 16, 1998, the Food and Drug Administration approved the use of thalidomide for the treatment of dehabilitating and disfiguring lesions caused by leprosy. This approval comes with strict warnings to women who are pregnant or are contemplating pregnancy. Thalidomide is now being used as a treatment for Waldenstrom's disease (rare form of Non-Hodgkin's Lympoma) with some degree of success. Side effects include mood changes, headache, nausea, constipation, dry skin, thyroid problems and slow heart beat.

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