WHO co-ordinated short-term double-blind trial with thalidomide in the treatment of acute lepra reactions in male lepromatous patients

Bull World Health Organ. 1971;45(6):719-32.


The treatment of lepra reactions constitutes one of the most serious problems in leprosy. For this reason, the first reports in 1965 of the favourable results obtained with thalidomide aroused considerable interest and led WHO, in 1967, to carry out a trial with the co-operation of four centres. A short-term double-blind trial was designed to study the effect of thalidomide, in comparison with acetylsalicylic acid, in the treatment of acute lepra reactions in male lepromatous patients. Acetylsalicylic acid was used instead of a placebo because of its antipyretic and analgesic activity. Because of the severe adverse reactions that may be caused by thalidomide, mainly the teratogenic effects, only males were included in the trial.The results of this short-term study seem to confirm previous reports of the efficacy of thalidomide and indicate that acetylsalicylic acid also seems to be helpful in the management of certain symptoms of lepra reactions.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Controlled Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aspirin / administration & dosage
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Humans
  • Leprosy / drug therapy*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Thalidomide / administration & dosage
  • Thalidomide / therapeutic use*
  • World Health Organization


  • Thalidomide
  • Aspirin