CHEMIE GRUNENTHAL, a West German pharmaceutical company, created thalidomide in 1953. It was used as a tranquilizer or sleeping pill and was being touted as a drug with no side effects. It was also used to treat morning sickness during pregnancy With its lack of side effects, it was deemed safe enough that it did not require a prescription; therefore, it was widely available over the counter. Eventually, the German manufacturer began to license the distribution of thalidomide in other countries.

The American pharmaceutical firm, William S. Merrell Company, wanted to distribute thalidomide in the lucrative U.S. market. On September 12, 1960, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) received a New Drug Application (NDA) from Merrell requesting approval for thalidomide. The NDA filed by Merrell contained ...

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