William McBride (doctor)

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Dr. William Griffith McBride CBE AO (born 25 May 1927 in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia),[1][2] is an Australian gynecologist and obstetrician, and currently[when?] holds the position of professor. He discovered the teratogenicity of thalidomide,[3][4][5][6] which resulted in the reduction of the number of drugs prescribed during pregnancy.

Thalidomide case[edit]

Dr McBride published a letter in The Lancet, in December 1961, noting a large number of birth defects in children of patients who were prescribed Thalidomide.[7] Dr. McBride was awarded a medal and prize money by the prestigious L'Institut de la Vie, a French Institut, in connection with his discovery, in 1971. Using the prize money, he established Foundation 41, a Sydney-based medical research foundation concerned with the causes of birth defects. Working with Dr P H Huang, he proposed that thalidomide caused malformations by interacting with the DNA of the dividing embryonic cells. This finding stimulated their experimentation, which showed that thalidomide may inhibit cell division in rapidly dividing cells of malignant tumors. This work was published in the journal "Pharmacology and Toxicology" in 1999 and has been rated in the top ten of the most important Australian medical discoveries. (The Sydney Morning Herald - 2005)

Debendox case[edit]

McBride's involvement in the Debendox case is less illustrious.[8] In 1981 he published a paper indicating that the drug Debendox (marketed in the US as Bendectin) caused birth defects. His coauthors noted that the published paper contained manipulated data and protested[9] but their voices went unheard. Multiple lawsuits followed by patients and McBride was a willing witness for the claimants. Eventually, the case was investigated and, as a result, McBride was struck off the Australian medical register in 1993 for deliberately falsifying data.[10][11] An inquiry determined "we are forced to conclude that Dr. McBride did publish statements which he either knew were untrue or which he did not genuinely believe to be true, and in that respect was guilty of scientific fraud." He was reinstated to the medical register in 1998.[12][13][14]


He was named Man of the Year (1962),[15] Australian of the Year (1962),[16] Commander of the Order of the British Empire (1969),[17] Father of the Year (1972) and Officer of the Order of Australia (1977).[18][19]


  1. ^ The most influential Australians — "Sydney Morning Herald"
  2. ^ William Griffith McBride biography — The University of Melbourne
  3. ^ Papers of William McBride, ca. 1953-1996, National Library of Australia, accessed 26 July 2010
  4. ^ 1960s TimelineAustralian Broadcasting Corporation
  5. ^ Page 48 of The New Scientist Page 48, Vol. 56 — published 5 October 1972
  6. ^ Dove, Frederick. Thalidomide apology insulting, campaigners say BBC News 1 September 2012. Accessed 31 March 2017
  7. ^ McCredie, Janet. The thalidomide story. Sydney Publishing (University of Sydney, 17 January 2016
  8. ^ Grant J (2007). Corrupted Science. Facts, Figures & Fun. p. 49f. ISBN 978-1-904332-73-2. 
  9. ^ The Insider, Australian Story, 22 February 2001, accessed 26 July 2010
  10. ^ Thalidomide hero found guilty of scientific fraud — Article published in "New Scientist" on 27 February 1991 ]
  11. ^ Dr. William McBride Case — Parliament of New South Wales
  12. ^ "Time Magazine"[dead link]
  13. ^ Medical Tribunal of New South Wales
  14. ^ Dr. McBride hails end of the affair — "The Australian"
  15. ^ Sydney newspaper article published on Friday, 28 December 1962
  16. ^ The most influential Australians — article published in Sydney Morning Herald 22 January 2001
  17. ^ It's an Honour: CBE
  18. ^ It's an Honour: AO
  19. ^ Book: "The Trouble with Medicine"

External links[edit]