Thalidomide was a sedative drug that caused birth malformations and death to babies in some countries during 1960s.  The malformations includes; deafness, blindness, internal disabilities and the most common phocomelia.

The most common adverse effect of the drug is a condition called phocomelia wherein there is a absence of either the lower and upper extremities of the newborn babies. According to the website of the Thalidomide Victims of Canada, unlike in other countries such as in West German and United Kingdom the tragic drug remained legal in Canada until March 2, 1962 thus, the victims are usually Canadian babies.

From the diverse census, it has been claimed that there were 10,000 to 20,000 born babies with disability from the drug thalidomide. Some of the families of the victims has filed a lawsuit and threatened actions against the companies that are responsible for the manufacture, distribution and sale of the drug.

As reported by Science Museum, Thalidomide was primarily developed by a West German Pharmaceutical Company to provide hope in expanding the company's line of other drug products. During the clinical trial, the animal test did not include the overview of the drug's effect during pregnancy.

In the year 1964, thalidomide has shown to reduce the symptoms of leprosy.  In the 1967, the extensive research of the drug's effect on leprosy has been conducted through the World Health Organization (WHO) clinical trials. Some of the positive effects of thalidomide to leprosy were seen in different countries. It has shown some pharmacologic effect in AIDS related conditions and in some cancers.

Thalidomide was legalized in the United States in the treatment of leprosy since July 16, 1998. In October 26, 2006, the drug was also authorized in conditions of Multiple Myeloma. In the current time, Thalidomide has shown a treatment platform in conditions such as; inflammatory diseases, HIV-related mouth ulcers, blood cancer including bone marrow and leukemia. However, the drug is still under safety studies regarding its use in the said health conditions.