Saturday, September 1, 2012

Thalidomide Dilemma

 Why I am outraged at the pharmaceutical companies.  It all started 57 years ago when I met a Thalidomide friend. After telling me her mother took the prescribed drug for morning sickness and anxieties, I wondered why the doctors did not protect her.

There are many parents today who are taking their young children to doctors for prescription drugs to help them grow taller, make them more alert, calm them down, make them sleep better, perform better in sports, schools, etc.  The nice doctors oblige but hardly give the parents the side effects. Most important, they honestly do not know the long term results of those drugs.  Still they administer them. And that is my case for this issue

In my friend’s memory I wrote a eulogy August 2010 on my web site:  It mentions her plus a video showing children who were affected.

If one would look up Thalidomide they would read as follows: Thalidomide is a sedative drug introduced in the late 1950s that was used to treat morning sickness and aid sleep. It was sold from 1957 until 1961, when it was withdrawn after being found to be a cause of birth defects. Since my friend was born July, 1939 one would say the above information was untrue.
Thalidomide was launched by GrĂ¼nenthal on 1 October 1957.  It was effective as a tranquilizer and painkiller, and was proclaimed a "wonder drug" for insomnia, coughs, colds and headaches. It was also good for pregnant women who had morning sickness. So my question is how did they know, (the medical profession) if the drug harmed them or their children afterwards. Wasn’t there research out there then? At the time of the drug's development, scientists did not believe any drug taken by a pregnant woman could pass across the placental barrier and harm the fetus.

Grunenthal has claimed to have lost documents relating to drug trials but Dr Johnson said its 1954 patent for Thalidomide indicated it had already been tested on humans before official tests began. Isn’t that interesting how all those formulas and documents got lost? It was noted that the drug was being tested and marketed in Germany in the early 1900 as an insecticide and found it did dangerous things.

An Australian class action law suit led my Lynette Rowe, a Thalidomide victim, was settled July 17, 2012, it was believed to be in the millions of dollars and paving the way for class action victims to receive further compensation.

Argentinian author Carlos De Napoli says he has discovered a November 1944 document from German pharmaceutical company IG Farben which refers to a substance with the same chemical formula as Thalidomide. In his book Hitler's Laboratories, he states company director Fritz ter Meer sent a memo to Karl Brandt, an SS general who ran Hitler's euthanasia programme.
The memo refers to the drug by a number - 4589 - and adds it has been tested and is ready for use. “There is absolutely no doubt of the Nazi development of, and experimentation with, thalidomide in the World War Two camps,' he said.

But documents unearthed by Dr Martin Johnson, director of the Thalidomide Trust, suggest it was created as a antidote to nerve toxins including sarin and was developed by Otto Ambros, a Third Reich scientist. Dr Johnson claims the drug was worked on by Ambros before he went to Grunenthal after the war.

'It is now appearing increasingly likely that thalidomide was the last war crime of the Nazis,' Dr Johnson said

The company insists it was invented in 1953 but a document suggests it had previously purchased the trade name Contergan, and therefore presumably the drug, from a French firm which had been controlled by the Nazis.

He concludes in a report: "The patents suggest that thalidomide was probably one of a number of products developed at [chemical laboratory] Dyhernfurth or Auschwitz-Monowitz [a synthetic rubber and petrol processing plant which used labour from concentration camps] under the leadership of Otto Ambros in the course of nerve gas research."

Recently it was just published in the Palm Beach Post that Germany apologized to all surviving Thalidomide victims.  Sorry, that just won’t do. There should be more pressures to the various countries especially Germany to compensate all Thalidomide survivors and their heirs. An Apology is simply not enough