Dark Remedy: The Impact of Thalidomide and Its Revival as a Vital Medicine

Dark Remedy: The Impact of Thalidomide and Its Revival as a Vital Medicine

Dark Remedy: The Impact of Thalidomide and Its Revival as a Vital Medicine

Dark Remedy: The Impact of Thalidomide and Its Revival as a Vital Medicine

Synopsis

In this riveting medical detective story, Trent Stephens and Rock Brynner recount the history of thalidomide, from the epidemic of birth defects in the 1960's to the present day, as scientists work to create and test an alternative drug that captures thalidomide's curative properties without its cruel side effects. A parable about compassion -- and the absence of it -- Dark Remedy is a gripping account of thalidomide's extraordinary impact on the lives of individuals and nations over half a century.

Excerpt

As an historian, I read the proposal for Trent Stephens's book about thalidomide with complete captivation. After further research of my own, the contours of this unique medical detective story began to emerge, embedded in a rich historical panorama, with a cast of remarkable characters who came vividly to life. Retracing its path, I have sometimes felt as if I were walking down a dark corridor with a flashlight and finding, left and right, an unlikely succession of fascinating worlds.

Most of what is known about the early history of this drug in Europe comes from the research of two scientific researchers for thalidomide victims in Sweden, Dr.Robert Nilsson and attorney Henning Sjöström; they later published their findings as Thalidomide and the Power of the Drug Companies (1972). Equally, a research group of the Sunday Times of London, called the Insight Team, collected hundreds of thousands of documents—many from the drug's manufacturers—that were later condensed in their account of the ordeal, Suffer the Children: The Story of Thalidomide (1979). As editor of the newspaper at the time, Harold Evans played a vital role in the European proceedings; we are grateful to him for allowing us to cite extensively from their work.

I am especially grateful to Amanda Cook, senior editor of Perseus Books, and to Dr.Trent Stephens, who together invited me to help tell this story.

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