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The Irish Thalidomide survivors society is a non-profit and totally voluntary organisation formed to represent, assist and support Irish Thalidomider’s, and persons with other congenital disabilities attributable to the effects of other drugs, which cause tetragenic problems. The Society acts selflessly; it does not pursue its own economic purposes.
The ITSS aim is to advise and guide organisations and interested parties in all matters relating to the provision of care, social security, social legislation, latest news on uses of tetragenic drugs , medical supplies and equipment with helping tools .etc
Thalidomide was developed by German pharmaceutical company Grünenthal in Stolberg (Rhineland) near Aachen , although this claim has recently been challenged. A report published by Dr Martin W Johnson, director of the Thalidomide Trust in the United Kingdom, detailed evidence that suggested the drug had been developed as an antidote to nerve gases such as sarin in Germany in 1944, ten years before Grünenthal secured a patent in 1954. Other sources have suggested that it may have been first synthesised by British scientists at the University of Nottingham in 1949. 1954: Two employees of the company, "Chemie Grünenthal" in Stolberg near Aachen,made it possible to manufacture the drug thalidomide, as a calming and sleep aid.Thalidomide, launched by Grünenthal on 1st October 1957, was found to act as an effective tranquiliser and painkiller and was proclaimed a "wonder drug" for insomnia, coughs, colds and headaches. It was also found to be an effective antiemetic which had an inhibitory effect on morning sickness , and so thousands of pregnant women took the drug to relieve their symptoms. At the time of the drug's development it was not thought likely that any drug could pass from the mother across the placental barrier and harm the developing fetus .
Thalidomide was a drug, which after years of extensive animal tests, was first marketed as an over-the-counter sedative. before being marketed, the danger signs had already appeared: during the 1950s at the University Clinic at Bonn, Thalidomide had been tested on 140 children. Doses used were 11 to 20 times higher than the recommended dose for adults. Half the children were mentally disturbed or had brain damage and had been given the drug for up to nine weeks. The parents were not asked for their permission, nor were they informed that their children were being treated with an entirely new sedative.
Sales rocketed and many pharmaceutical companies produced the drug under license to Chemie Grünenthal from as early as 1955 and 1957.
1957, after launching Contergan (Thalidomide) in West Germany, reports began to appear regarding peripheral neuritis which revealed thalidomide's toxic effects on the nervous system of the user. The same problems were confirmed by doctors who reported ill- effects from the drug, while observing their patients. followed by a surge of universal medical agreement that severe nervous damage was being caused by Thalidomide. During this time, of the marketing and sale of the drugs containing Thalidomide in Ireland, the Irish Government, under the auspices of its Department of Health, approved the marketing and sale of Softenon, Entero-Sediv, Poli-Gripan, Nocto-Sediv, Predni-Sediv. Despite the surge of universal medical agreement, that severe nervous damage was being caused by Thalidomide.
Such a suspicion was suggestive enough to cause Dr Frances Kelsey, the Medical Officer of the American Food and Drug Administration, to reject the pharmaceutical company's application to market Kevadon (Thalidomide) in the United States, because among other reasons, she was not satisfied that the drug would be safe to take during pregnancy. In 1962, the United States Congress enacted laws requiring tests for safety during pregnancy before a drug can receive approval for sale in the U.S. Some other countries enacted similar legislation, and thalidomide was not prescribed or sold for decades.
Nevertheless, the drug went on to cause an outbreak of physical deformities in tens of thousands of children across the world. Many of these did not survive early childhood, and countless more had already died in the uterus.
Correspondence from Dr. Victoria Coffey’s sent on the 23rd March 1963 by to the Department of Health and subsequently on October 12th 1964 to Prof. Lenz, Germany). Stated, “The number of babies in Ireland with limb anomalies considered attributable to the drug Thalidomide was 105. Of these, 87 were actually born alive but 23 died in the neonatal period. The remainder of 64 had malformations of varying severity”.
We now no there is 27 Irish thalidomiders on the German records and 32 on the Irish records with damage attributable to the drug Thalidomide.
My name is Carmel Daly McDonnell I represent the, The Irish Thalidomide survivors society. We are a non-profit organisation representing Irish thalidomider’s. Our aim is to advice and guide agencies in all matters relating to thalidomide survivors and drugs containing thalidomide properties. This is outline the complicated difficulties we are having with Minister James Reilly and in the conclusion give a brief insight on the impact thalidomide has had on our lives .