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Literature & Language
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Australian Thalidomide Support Program (Essay Sample)

Instructions:
In order to fully introduce the Australian Thalidomide Survivors Support program, this study debunks the root cause of the formation of the program. The cause can summarize into one single word Thalidomide. Thalidomide is a chemical component that is found in two mirror forms. One being the (R)-enantiomer and the other being the (S)-isomer. The former is known to be instrumental in sedation while the latter is unfortunately a teratogenic substance which causes physical and functional defects in the human embryo. Separating the two isomers is futile since they interconvert whenever exposed to biological conditions. source..
Content:
Australian Thalidomide Survivors Support Program Name Institution Instructor Abstract Imagine taking a drug prescribed by your doctor and later seeing the drug on your local news channel being described as harmful, fatal and to be avoided at all costs. This was the beginning of a long term emotional, physical and psychological battle for most of the thalidomide survivors. Mentioning of the term thalidomide evokes a painful memory of the tragedy that befell Australia in the late 1950s. A drug that was meant to alleviate morning sickness in pregnant women turned into a tool that not only affected its user’s lives but those of their future generations also. This study is aimed at discovering and demystifying the components of thalidomide drug, how it came to be used, ways in which it was received in Australia and the effects it had on the users. Thalidomide not only affected Australian citizens. Its effects were also felt in New Zealand, The United Kingdom, Japan, Canada and Sweden. It is however keen to note that not all nations have conducted proper research on the effects of the drug in their countries. This undoubtedly creates loopholes in the statistical data found available in documentaries, publications and research books. This evaluation seeks to understand the role of local and international governments in mitigating the effects caused by thalidomide using the information that has been made public. This study majorly dives into the formation of the Australian Thalidomide Support Program, the people who pioneered the movement and the milestones it has been able to achieve. Introduction In order to fully introduce the Australian Thalidomide Survivors Support program, this study debunks the root cause of the formation of the program. The cause can summarize into one single word Thalidomide. Thalidomide is a chemical component that is found in two mirror forms. One being the (R)-enantiomer and the other being the (S)-isomer. The former is known to be instrumental in sedation while the latter is unfortunately a teratogenic substance which causes physical and functional defects in the human embryo. Separating the two isomers is futile since they interconvert whenever exposed to biological conditions. Thalidomide was advertised as an over-the-counter anti-nausea drug. It came as a remedy mainly for pregnant women who experience morning sickness during the nine-month long gestation period. It was invented in Germany at the Grunenthal lab and it made an entry into the market in 1957. It was then licensed in Britain and came to be known as Distaval. Australia also picked up the name Distaval which was used to publicize and advertise it. People could acquire it without a doctor’s prescription to cure common communicable diseases such as cold and flu. (R Nillson,1972) The Australian Thalidomide Survivors Support Program This is a group made up of the 1960s children who were born with physical defects brought about by the ingestion of the Thalidomide tablets by expectant mothers. This program has tenaciously fought damage compensation over the years. It has also immersed itself in research aimed at fully exposing the drug’s creators and their malicious cover ups, the political forces that influenced its production and banning and the legislative actions that contributed to the drug being declared harmful. The program has been able to uncovered and made public various pieces of historical information which will also serve generations to come. Historical findings. In April 1961, an Australian doctor known as William McBride found relations between the over-the-counter drug and development defects. He reached out to the Australia’s Grunenthal distributor known as Distillers and shared his findings. Unfortunately, Distillers never acted on the discovery made by McBride. In, fact their sales tremendously increased and the drug kept being advertised as harmless even to infants. Doctor William kept sharing his findings despite Distiller’s obliviousness. Finally, in May 1961, Crown Street Women’s Hospital took interest in William’s theory. He managed to convince the hospital that Thalamide was the culprit behind the increased number of deformities in the country. In December 1961, William’s findings were published by the Lancet and later on by the Australian Medical Journal which immensely publicized his findings. Distillers then wrote a letter to the Australian Health department and Federal Health Minister stating that Thalamide may actually be a cause of birth malfunctions. However, Grunenthal kept on producing and marketing the drug to its audiences despite of the medical criticism it was getting. Australia then declared that Thalidomide could only be consumed under a doctor’s prescription in 1962. This was closely followed by a publication that became famous. It was written by a midwife in an effort to warn women of the dangers of the drug (Renee 1962). In August 1962, Australia finally banned the sale of Thalamide Political forces and Legislative action Despite pressure from the pharmaceutical business and FDA superiors, FDA inspector Frances Kelsey kept the medicine from being approved in the United States. Kelsey said the thalidomide application provided insufficient and incomplete facts on its safety and effectiveness. Kelsey was also concerned that no data from the drug's clinical trials in the United States were yet available drug. In New Zealand the government prohibited the importation, manufacture, sale, and use of Thalidomide in New Zealand.   In 1962, Senator Wade who was Australia's Minister for Health at that time stated that "no action" was required on the medicine Thalidomide because "the manufacturer had pulled it from the market." (The Age,1962). Due to this statement, it was still possible to walk into a Chemist shop and buy 100 tablets seven and a half months after the manufacturer had supposedly pulled it from the market. This meant that it was also possible for the producer to make supplies available to hospitals at any moment. The Health department then drew up several Press Release's outlining the dangers of Thalidomide. Senator Wade refused to sign them. On 11th December 1962, Health Minister Wade was reported by The Herald to have categorically denied that the drugs Tensivil, Valgraine, and Valgris, which all contained Thalidomide were ever sold in Australia. In January 1963, Distillers reported that there were 8,079,184 thalidomide tablets in storage in a Sydney warehouse.  Discussion on findings.  From the historical findings above, it is undoubtedly clear that political leadership has the power to amend a society's issues or further worsen it. It was difficult for Australia to effectively mitigate the effects of thalidomide since the political sphere did not favor this course of action. It is also seen that Australia was among the last states to fully declare thalidomide illegal due to delayed reaction by the government. In the international sphere, it is seen that FDA Inspector Kelsey, takes a firm stand against the introduction of thalidomide into the United States of America. His decision singlehandedly saved the US from the thalidomide tragedy. Legislative bodies therefore play a crucial role in protecting states and countries. Thalidomide Survivors Support Program Achievements The program has managed to to fight for rights for its victims. Through its constant research and activism, the program has managed to get a lifetime support package for its members. Through this program, the thalidomide survivors get a number of benefits. The benefits include a lump sum payment and annu...
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