Thalidomide was actually never approved by the
Food and Drug Administration (FDA) during the early 1960s, and
therefore, prevented thousands of deformities from occurring in the
United States. Frances Oldham Kelsey, the reviewer at the FDA who
delayed the approval, was awarded the President’s Award for
Distinguished Federal Civilian Service (at the time, the highest
civilian award in the U.S.) by President John F. Kennedy. Taking even a single dose of thalidomide during early pregnancy may cause major birth defects.
In 1998, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Thalidomide
for use in treating leprosy symptoms. Studies are also being conducted
to determine the effectiveness of Thalidomide in treating symptoms
associated with AIDS, Behchet disease, lupus, Sjogren syndrome,
rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, macular degeneration,
and some cancers.