Ep 59 Thalidomide: Justice Delayed, Justice Denied

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The story of thalidomide is often employed as a cautionary tale - why testing a drug’s safety during pregnancy is crucial or why it’s important to choose the right animal models. Or it’s framed as a success story for drug repurposing or regulation. But those tellings often gloss over the darker lesson of thalidomide: that for some companies, the bottom line is more important than human life. This week, we explore all elements of this infamous drug. We start by examining what we know about how thalidomide causes the severe congenital malformations it’s associated with, and then we dive into the deep, dark history of the drug, complete with a full cast of villains and heroes. Finally, we discuss thalidomide’s controversial comeback as a treatment for myeloma and complications of leprosy. Get out your angry hats for this one, people, because you’ll find yourself asking along with us, “why are humans the way we are?”

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