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March 16, 1990

Key Witness Against Morning Sickness Drug Faces Scientific Fraud Charges

JAMA. 1990;263(11):1468-1473. doi:10.1001/jama.1990.03440110020003

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WILLIAM McBRIDE, MD, the Australian obstetrician many credit as being among the first to notice the association between thalidomide and birth defects (see accompanying article), is now facing charges of scientific fraud and professional misconduct before an Australian medical tribunal.

Some of the 15 charges against him concern his efforts to show that the anti-morning sickness drug Bendectin is also teratogenic. According to the New South Wales State Department of Health's Complaints Unit in Sydney, McBride is accused of fabricating data in a published study and falsely testifying in US federal courts about his research. His testimony played a key role in many of the lawsuits against Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc, Cincinnati, Ohio, which manufactured Bendectin, the only drug approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of nausea during pregnancy.

Responding to the onslaught of hundreds of lawsuits, Merrell Dow halted production of its anti-morning sickness