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August 1962

Thalidomide—A Lesson in Remote Effects of Drugs

Author Affiliations

Professor of Pediatrics Johns Hopkins Hospital Baltimore

Am J Dis Child. 1962;104(2):111-113. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1962.02080030113001

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In late January, 1962, my attention was attracted to reports of an outbreak of congenital malformations in children being born in Germany and its possible relation to a specific drug. Because of my interest in congenital malformations of the heart I decided to examine the situation myself. My trip was supported by grants from the International Society of Cardiology Foundation, the Heart Association of Maryland, and the National Institute of Health. I travelled throughout West Germany with the exception of West Berlin. The results of this investigation seem to me so important and so pressing that I feel it my duty to report them to the medical profession without further delay.

The malformation with which I was concerned was phocomelia; the name comes from the Greek words Phokos, meaning seal, and Melos, meaning extremities. According to definition the development of the limb buds is so affected that the hands and

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