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Dr. Kelsey Says Several Hundred Americans Took Thalidomide

July 27, 1962 - The Government doctor who prevented the drug Thalidomide from being sold commercially in the U.S. said today that several hundred Americans had taken the pills on an experimental basis. However, according to Dr. Frances Kelsey (pictured) of the FDA, it is not known how many pregnant women were involved. This is an important point because Thalidomide has caused babies to be born deformed when it was taken by expectant mothers. The William S. Merrell company, manufacturers of the drug in the U.S., withdrew the pills from doctors last March. The company is now investigating to make certain that none of the pills are still available. Several cases of deformed babies have been reported in this country, including at least three in New York. The mothers had obtained the drug in Europe, where it was sold commercially. Medical authorities have estimated that from 3,500 to 5,000 deformed babies will have been born in Europe by this fall as a result of using Thalidomide.


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