Thalidomide was not tested on pregnant animals before being used in patients. Within six months of the publication of the first clinical report linking phocomelia in babies with maternal ingestion of thalidomide during pregnancy, this exact phenomenon was reported in experimental studies in rabbits.
If thalidomide was produced as a potential therapy today it would not get through preliminary animal tests now required. The thalidomide story, far from casting doubt on the reliability of animal testing, is an endorsement of it.
Dr JACK BOTTING
London SW16Reuse content