The Thalidomide Society has been the prime advisor on the scripts for the forthcoming scripts of Call the Midwife which is featuring a number of stories featuring thalidomide births.
We are excited that such a popular and wide-reaching television programme is going to tell the thalidomide story and we have been impressed with the sensitivity and extensive research that the Call the Midwife team have put into making the stories historically accurate. We also appreciate their bravery in putting together something that will undoubtedly be both upsetting and shocking to many of their viewers who don’t know the truth about thalidomide.
At the Society we believe that preserving the history of thalidomide is essential. The trust their mothers put into the medical profession who prescribed the drug and their subsequent guilt is difficult to comprehend today when we are used to having drugs with side effect warnings and the right to question the doctor. However, much of our sophistication is down to the thalidomide story, often described as the greatest man-made disaster of the 20th century, which changed the laws for drug testing, medical compensation claims and public perceptions of disability – it was not until thalidomide that a disabled child had ever appeared on the front page of a newspaper.
The thalidomide story should also help to remind viewers of Call the Midwife that thalidomide survivors and their families are still alive, are still fighting to get the compensation they deserve, particularly as they head into old age and discover health issues they had not previously been aware of and are still awaiting the proper recognition from the companies who made and distributed the drug.
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