1961An Australian doctor, William McBride, writes to the Lancet medical journal after noticing an increase in the number of deformed babies born at his hospital, all to mothers who had taken thalidomide. The drug is withdrawn later the same year.
1968The UK manufacturer Distillers Biochemicals Ltd (now Diageo) reaches a compensation settlement after a legal battle with the families of those affected.
1972The Sunday Times publishes a front-page lead under the banner "Our thalidomide children, a cause for national shame", part of a long-running campaign for further compensation. Eventually, a total of £28m is paid out by Diageo during the 1970s.
2004Thalidomide is made available on a named patient basis, meaning doctors can give it to patients only on a case-by-case basis and at their own discretion, under strict controls.
2005A Kenyan boy with no arms or legs is granted a visa to travel to the UK to receive medical treatment after a campaign by the charity Thalidomide UK. It is not known what caused 14-month-old Freddie Musean Mtile's disabilities, but the charity says the drug is still used in the treatment of leprosy and Aids in developing countries. Mtile dies from a fungal infection the following year. Separately, Diageo agrees to more than double its compensation payouts to thalidomide victims from £2.8m a year to about £6.5m.
2007A study shows that thalidomide can significantly improve the survival chances of bone-marrow cancer patients. Researchers say adding thalidomide to standard treatment extended the lives of elderly patients with multiple myeloma by an average of 18 months.
2008The drug is approved for the treatment of multiple myeloma by the European Medicines Agency.
2009Scientists at the University of Aberdeen claim they have solved a "50-year puzzle" after discovering how thalidomide causes limb defects. They found that a component of the drug prevented the growth of new blood vessels in developing embryos, stunting limb growth. The government agrees to pay a £20m grant to the Thalidomide Trust over three years, after another campaign by the Sunday Times.
2010The health minister Mike O'Brien makes a formal apology to thalidomide victims, expressing "sincere regret and deep sympathy" on behalf of the government. The apology gets a mixed response from victims, with some describing it as too little, too late. Eighteen Northern Irish thalidomide survivors receive a formal apology and £1m compensation from the devolved assembly.