Thalidomide was sold to pregnant women in the 1950s and early 1960s to cure morning sickness. It was made by the German company Grunenthal. It caused serious birth defects before being taken off the market. See Thalidomide victims reject 'insulting' apology from drug company.
Thalidomide came up in my micro classes this week since we read a chapter from the book The Economics of Public Issues that discussed the dilemma the FDA faces in approving drugs.
There is a danger that the FDA will make a Type I error, meaning an unsafe drug is allowed onto the market. To try to avoid that, they can test a new drug for a long time to make sure it is safe. But in the mean time people might be dying because they cannot get the drug. When that happens, it is called a Type II error. This happened with Septra, an antibiotic.
The book reports that "in 2006, the FDA gave physicians the OK to use it (thalidomide) in treating bone marrow cancer."