Thalidomide Apology: it’s long overdue

1 December, 2023

On Wednesday 29th of November (2023) the Prime Minister issued a formal apology to the survivors of thalidomide and their families.

This apology is welcome news for those who have suffered terribly because of a man-made tragedy involving a drug made for morning sickness during pregnancy. 

On the 29th of November 1961 thalidomide was removed from sale in Australia after being linked to in utero death and significant birth defects including children being born without limbs. 

That’s over 60 years ago!  This apology is long overdue.

In 2019 a Senate report found that if the federal government had acted more quickly when the alarm was first raised, up to 20 per cent of survivors may not have been affected at all.

The apology to the thalidomide survivors acknowledges the devastating effects of this drug and how the drug safety system had failed both parents and children. 

For too long parliaments, governments and drug safety regulators let these people down while they suffered the consequences of this tragedy. 

My heart goes out to those families and individuals affected by this failure, and I offer my heartfelt condolences for the suffering it caused.

This was a dark period in Australia’s history, and we must learn from it. 

It is the government’s responsibility to ensure that every, single, drug, approved for use on the Australian people is as safe and effective as it is claimed to be.

And that’s justice, as I see it.

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Russell Broadbent MP
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