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Thalidomide

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# Since the mid to late 1950’s, Thalidomide has been a controversial drug. Since its introduction it has seen its highs and its lows. From devastating birth defects, to a treatment for some life threatening cancers, Thalidomide could be considered the Jeckel and Hyde of the pharmaceutical world. The question that the pharmaceutical world is asking itself now is weather the risk of the possible devastating birth defects that can happen is worth the possible life saving benefits that could be gained. Thalidomide has been the topic of debate since its uses as a treatment of certain cancers has been discovered.
# The drug was first introduced in the Europe. Thalidomide was prescribed to pregnant women to try and combat morning sickness. Thalidomide was also used as a sleep enhancer in other patients. It was not until 1961 that the drug was linked to the horrific malformations such as babies being born with flipper like limbs. It was also blamed for other birth defects effecting the eyes, ears, heart, genitals, kidneys, nervous system and digestive tract. The possibilities of subjecting more babies and their families to the effects of Thalidomide has many people upset about the idea that it may be coming back on the market. Just one dose of the drug to an unborn baby can cause dire effects. It takes a very small amount to cause any one of the serious problems listed above.
# Thalidomide was never produced or distributed in the United States, but a handful of “Thalidomide babies” were born to American families. Seven thousand to twelve thousand babies were born with defects due to Thalidomide in other parts of the world, including Europe and Canada. (Snider, 1995) As a result of the numerous problems with the drug, the FDA has created new guidelines for preclinical animal test to learn if a new compound causes birth defects before it ever enters humans. (Brown, 1997) Teratogenic, or birth defect causing, drugs are normally yanked off the market way before studies have been done to see if they have any other applications. The views of the pharmaceutical world are that nothing can be gained from a drug that causes life altering birth defects.
# Now, years later, Thalidomide has been given a chance to redeem itself. Early research has shown that the drug has been effective in treating a variety of ailments such as leprosy, tuberculoses, HIV, arthritis, and even can...

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...me it horrific past and be made available for the possible good it may perform? Can the world accept the fact that people may have no other options to continue living than to take a drug that caused so much suffering in the past? Many people’s lives, and quality of life, may depend on these questions. The key to the distribution of Thalidomide is control. If the FDA can monitor and regulate the drug, ensuring no more babies will be born suffering the defects caused by the drug Thalidomide, hundreds of thousands of people many are able to live longer, healthier lives.

Source Listing

USA Today
Aug 23, 1999, n.p.
Thalidomide Fighting Some of the Deadliest Cancers Known
By Kathleen Fackelmann

Frederick News-Post
(Frederick, MD)
July 16, 1998
FDA Approves Return of Thalidomide
By Lauran Neergaard

The Scientist
Feb 3, 1997, pp. 1+
New Uses for Thalidomide Yielding Valuable Lessons
By Kathryn S. Brown

In These Times
Nov 13, 1995, pp. 7-8
The Thalidomide Revival
By Anna Snider

www.aegis.com
Simple Facts Sheet: thalidomide
Copyright 2000
Last Updated 4/16/2002

www.fda.gov
Thalidomide: Important Patient Information
September 11, 1997
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