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BBC documentary Thalidomide: The Fifty Year Fight shows horror of scandal

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The Thalidomide: The Fifty Year Fight documentary, which aired on BBC last night, displayed the extent of the damage and impact that the drug caused a whole generation.

Thalidomide was a drug that was administered to pregnant women back in the 50's and 60's to treat morning sickness. The drug itself was not aimed at targeting the causes of nausea however and was instead a sedative pill as doctors mistakenly attributed morning sickness to pregnancy anxiety.

However, the drug was not only a sedative. It was also extremely damaging and in no time a whole host of babies were born around the UK with severe bodily defects. The documentary spoke to some of the survivors who were born with such defects and we heard about some of the innovative ways these brave survivors have adapted to their circumstances.

Archive footage played a large part in the documentary as images of babies without any limbs to speak of tried to move around were shocking.

What is Thalidomide?

The survivors are entangled in a long running battle for compensation from both German manufacturers Grunenthal and Distillers, the company that introduced the drug to Britain. The show labelled the legal battle "one of the dirtiest pieces of litigation" fought by multinationals and in 1973 Distillers paid compensation to UK victims after a decade of fighting.

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