Aug 07, 2015

By Bob Komsic

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Frances Kelsey, a Canadian doctor who fought hard to keep thalidomide off American shelves, has died.

Frances Kelsey cover

Kelsey died Friday morning, less than 24 hours after receiving the Order of Canada in a private ceremony at her daughter’s London, Ontario home.

Christine Kelsey says it was originally scheduled for September but was moved up due to her mother’s deteriorating health.

Lieutenant-Governor Elizabeth Dowdeswell presented the insignia of Member of the Order of Canada on behalf of Governor General David Johnston.

Frances Kelsey

Kelsey was a medical officer for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in the early 1960s when she raised concerns about thalidomide, a drug used in Canada and other countries to treat morning sickness and insomnia in pregnant women.

Despite pressure from the makers of the drug to have it approved, Frances Kelsey refused, and as a result saved thousands of children from crippling birth defects.

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