Thalidomide: How to Take on the Pharmaceuticals and Win

    Wednesday 11 July 2007
    Frontline Club

    Frontline Confidential in association with the CIJ.

    The landmark Sunday Times Insight Team’s investigation of the Distillers’ wonder drug which caused severely deformed babies. The manufacturer who bragged that their wonder drug, Thalidomide, was completely safe, sold it in 46 countries under at least 37 names. Some patients began reporting unusual side-effects, and pregnant women started giving birth to severely deformed babies. Still the manufacturer continued to dispute the claims.

    But a crusading editorial policy and the Insight Team of the Sunday Times under editor Harold Evans, took on the drug companies to win compensation for the victims. The Insight Team eventually gained victory in the European Court of Human Rights. It was one of the most important victories of investigative reporting in British journalism

    One special correspondent of this landmark investigation was Philip Knightley and another was Elaine Potter, who co-authored the history of the investigation, ‘Suffer the Children’ with Marjorie Wallace and Harold Evans.