Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
April 24, 2014

The Story of Thalidomide

The new Retro Report is a very powerful one and shows how one government doctor saved thousands of babies from a horrible fate.

  • rxwench

    When some of my more “libertarian” friends start mouthing off about regulations, I usually use the thalidomide story to refute their naivety (or idiocy, as the case may be). I knew most, but not all of this story and still found this mini-documentary compelling. We NEED regulatory agencies, and we need scientists and clinicians willing to take unpopular positions to ensure our safety. Of course, thalidomide isn’t a bad drug. There are many drugs far more toxic. It’s a drug that when taken by pregnant women, results in horribly malformed infants, but it has clinical utility. So regulations are critical to ensure it doesn’t get into the wrong hands.

    Another scary story from 1937 is the Massengill “Elixir Sulfanilamide” product which resulted in the poisoning deaths of ~100 people, most children. The pharmacist who compounded the remedy mixed the sulfa drug with diethylene glycol (antifreeze), to give the product a sweet taste. The poisonings resulted in the 1938 Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.

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