There were relatively few comments on The Thalidomide Catastrophe. There were however more people getting in touch directly. Some said they were going to buy the book. Here are some more reasons to think about buying.
Many seem to think thalidomide is an old story they more or less know everything about? Everyone knows for instance who made Thalidomide – Chemie Grunenthal? Think again. It was probably more than a decade old by the time Grunenthal took out a patent on it in 1954.
The real maker was likely linked to Otto Ambros, the man responsible for the camp at Auschwitz, whose job it was to produce nerve poisons. Ambros was jailed briefly after the War before joining the board of Grunenthal, where he linked up with a number of other Nazis.
Thalidomide was traded in Germany as Contergan. Sounds like a close relative of Antergan – a Rhone Poulenc drug? It is almost for certain the real makers of thalidomide stored it during the War with Rhone-Poulenc – in France – and got it back afterwards.
By 1961, Grunenthal was in big trouble. Deformed babies were being born all over the place. The company was busy denying all responsibility. They needed a get out of jail free card. The company gave the drug to patients with learning disabilities and patients with Alzheimer’s and other vulnerable groups looking for salvation.
Otto Ambros meanwhile sat down with Jacob Sheskin from Israel, and a year later in 1965, Sheskin and colleagues reported Thalidomide cured leprosy.
Grunenthal went on trial in 1968. Another of Sheskin’s group was scheduled to testify for the company at trial – how honorable and proper the company were.
Lots of people have heard that Thalidomide caused problems but it turned out to be a good treatment for leprosy and myeloma. Well, Sheskin’s claim and later patent was based on treating Erythema Nodosum Leprosum (ENL). This is not leprosy.
At the time Dapsone was the number one treatment for leprosy. One of its side effects is ENL. You are particularly likely to get ENL if the dose is pushed up. Sheskin had pushed the dose beyond what anyone was using anywhere, and caused ENL.
WHO waded in and endorsed Thalidomide for Leprosy on the basis of these effects on ENL. With an indication on thalidomide for leprosy and WHO support to help get Thalidomide into use in Brazil and elsewhere in South America and Africa, the use of the drug boomed during the 1970s and 1980s.
It came with no warnings. Thalidomide finally reached the market in the United States for AIDS in the early 1990s with a STEPS (System for Thalidomide Education and Prescribing Safety) program. The STEPS program was a monitoring and consent system aimed at ensuring there would be no pregnancies. It justified a then astronomical price. It also turned out to be a way to fight off a challenge to the patent. When Dr Reddy from India tried to produce a generic version, Celgene, Thalidomide’s new owners, claimed the patent was on the combination of the drug and safety system.
In 2003, WHO conceded thalidomide had never been any good for leprosy. They said nothing about their efforts to push thalidomide for over two decades in Brazil and elsewhere without even a hint of a STEPS program, or continuing efforts to push Thalidomide in Brazil and elsewhere without a STEPS program for nearly two decades after one was introduced in the United States.
There were probably more Thalidomiders born in Brazil than anywhere else.
Between Leprosy and papers claiming Thalidomide was useful for Behcet’s syndrome – a skin condition which it is claimed has more papers written about it than there ever were patients – when a new plague, AIDS, turned up in the 1980s, one of the features of which were skin lesions, AIDS patients got interested in Thalidomide. Buyer’s clubs began importing it from Brazil and Mexico.
Their interest was strengthened when Celgene – a new company that had appeared soon after AIDS – announced it had been liaising with Gilla Kaplan, an Israeli scientist, who had drawn their attention to the possibilities Thalidomide might have in the treatment of AIDS. All sorts of theories were put forward as to why Thalidomide was going to be the miracle cure – the Holy Grail.
These theories were bananas and diametrically contradictory. But Thalidomide has always been aimed at the vulnerable and beyond them the particularly vulnerable. By the stage it was approved by FDA, the AIDS community had left it behind. But before they did, it seems highly likely it was responsible for a considerable proportion of AIDS deaths, with the peripheral neuropathy and dementia it causes adding to the peripheral neuropathy and dementia that AIDS causes – or does it?
Thalidomide was brought back on the market by Celgene. Celgene came into existence in 1986. They were created by Hoechst, who had once been part of IG Farben – the company in which Thalidomide first appeared. Celgene’s parent, Hoechst, went on to merge with none other than Rhone-Poulenc.
Thalidomide was useless for AIDS but made money for Celgene and was Back. An AIDS patient, or so the story goes, shared it with his father who had multiple myeloma and the father got a benefit. Thalidomde began to be used off license for multiple myeloma.
Celgene rushed out a derivative of it – Revlimid – lenalidomide – which appears even more likely to cause birth defects. Complete with a STEPS type program, it cost a fortune. For not very much benefit.
Some years later, Celgene launched another derivative Otezla, apremilast, for minor skin blemishes, complete with warnings about birth defects and suicidality – see HERE.
In 2015, reviewing the pharmaceutical industry Forbes listed Celgene as the second most profitable company in the world – based on its thalidomide franchise. Nazi chic is worth a lot. Just take care asking questions about Celgene.
Chemie-Grunenthal were a family firm – the Wirz family. They had strong Nazi connections. They escaped close to scott-free from the Thalidomide disaster of the 1960s. The German government may have broken the law to save them. The architect of their escape, was Joseph Neuberger, a Jew, who had returned to Germany from Israel and was a Minister in the Social Democrat government, who for whatever reason seem to have wanted to bail them out
Many decades later Michael Wirz, the then owner, son of the original owner, Herman Wirz, was made a Papal Knight. Not by Josef Ratzinger, who of course had interesting links as a younger man, but by Jose Mario Bergoglio. What’s in a name – Argentina. Stop – paranoid fantasies can go too far.
Having played a part in not believing victims of child abuse in Chile, for which he recently apologized, Bergoglio has even more recently managed to get the entire cohort of Chilean Bishops to tender their resignation for their part in covering-up child abuse in the country.
Thalidomide has probably been one of the most devastating examples of child abuse ever. In purely moral terms, Bergoglio is better placed than anyone to play a part in uncovering the cover-up and extracting an apology.
Trouble is no-one is scared of the Catholic Church or the Inquisition anymore. They are however scared stiff of the pharmaceutical industry. Morality for many of us is not annoying those you are scared stiff of.
So you thought you knew the Thalidomide story? This post just scratches the surface.
Mark Twain said that truth is stranger than fiction because fiction has to make sense. The Thalidomide Catastrophe is the strangest of strange books. Everyone should buy.
Copyright © Data Based Medicine Americas Ltd.
The German pharmaceutical company Gruenenthal who manufactured the anti-morning sickness drug thalidomide has apologised to the thousands of children born without limbs as a result of its use.
Gruenenthal’s chief executive Harald Stock will give a speech at the inauguration of a special memorial in Stolberg, Germany today but the speech was published on the company’s website.
In the speech he refers to a Mr Igel, thought to be Johannes Igel who campaigned for donations towards the “erection or maintenance” of a public memorial in Stolberg commemorating the victims of the thalidomide.
Here is the text in full of Mr Stock’s speech:
Dear Mr Mayor, ladies and gentlemen – and particularly dear Mr Igel.
The fact that a Gruenenthal representative is given the opportunity to speak on this special day and special occasion will surely be discussed as being controversial. I would like to thank you for granting me the opportunity to speak today. Thalidomide is and will always be part of our company’s history. We have a responsibility and we face it openly.
This day is marked by courage and commitment.
You, Mr Igel, are brave. And you are committed. You have just described how much you have dreamed about and how hard you have worked for this day and the fact that you – people affected by thalidomide – have a symbol and a place to ensure that our society does not forget. I personally understand your desire well.
Nevertheless, we all were able to learn from the media and from statements from those both involved and uninvolved – that this day has triggered very critical reactions alongside great support. I think you will agree that it comes with the specific nature of this issue that positive intentions are criticised for other motivations.
We have chosen to support your cause, Mr Igel, which is also the cause of many affected people. The memorial symbolises an important milestone of a larger development. It is a development towards an ongoing dialogue, ongoing moving towards one another, incipient efforts to understand and – consequently – to act together. A development that began in 2007 by starting official and regular talks between representatives of our company and representatives of the affected people.
Over the past few years the intensified dialogue led to our endowment of 50 million Euros in 2009 as well as to projects in Germany and abroad, such as the Belgian patient card or the direct support of hardship cases which started about one year ago, to support those needs of individual affected people that are not covered by the foundation or social services.
In numerous talks with those affected, but also for example with the Ministry of Health, Equalities, Care and Ageing of North Rhine-Westphalia – especially in the last few months -, we learned how much it is publicly desired that we express our deep regrets to those affected by thalidomide, and in particular to their mothers.We are aware of our responsibility and will continue to fulfil it in demand-oriented projects and initiatives.
The fact that I can stand here today and address a few words to you, is nevertheless not a matter of course.
Your courage, dear Mr Igel, in accepting our support on the initiative of Mayor Gatzweiler – even in the face of the resistance on the part of the representatives of those affected – and your willingness to listen to us today is a testament to greatness, for Gruenenthal is the company that developed and marketed thalidomide.
On behalf of Gruenenthal with its shareholders and all employees, I would like to take the opportunity at this moment of remembrance today to express our sincere regrets about the consequences of thalidomide and our deep sympathy for all those affected, their mothers and their families. We see both the physical hardship and the emotional stress that the affected, their families and particularly their mothers, had to suffer because of thalidomide and still have to endure day by day.
The thalidomide tragedy took place 50 years ago in a world completely different from today. The international scientific community, the pharmaceutical industry and governments, legislators and administrations have had to learn a lot from it. Throughout the world the tragedy influenced the development of new authorisation procedures and legal frameworks, which seek to minimise the risks of new medicines for patients as much as possible.
Gruenenthal has acted in accordance with the state of scientific knowledge and all industry standards for testing new drugs that were relevant and acknowledged in the 1950s and 1960s. We regret that the teratogenic potential of thalidomide could not be detected by the tests that we and others carried out before it was marketed.
Hence the drug was taken by many women who had no reason to imagine that it could seriously harm their unborn children. Therefore we want to address this message particularly to all the affected and their mothers. We realise that the mothers are carrying a heavy burden.
We also apologise for the fact that we have not found the way to you from person to person for almost 50 years. Instead, we have been silent and we are very sorry for that.
We ask that you regard our long silence as a sign of the silent shock that your fate has caused us. We have learned how important it is that we engage in an open dialogue with those affected and to talk and to listen to them. We have begun to mutually develop and implement projects with them, to improve their living situation and assist in hardship situations easily and efficiently. We will continue to pursue this path in the future.
We wish that the thalidomide tragedy had never happened. It is an important part of our thinking and acting – today as in the future.
Thalidomide survivor: Apology is insulting
An apology should be an unreserved apology and not a conditional apology. It is strange when a company gives an apology which is not the truth, but is a lie.
We feel that a sincere and genuine apology is one which actually admits wrongdoing. The company has not done that and has really insulted the Thalidomiders.
– Thalidomide survivor Nick Dobrik talking to the BBC Radio 4 Today programme
Reddy for anything?
Reddy is a relatively common name in India so there can be no assumption that Dr S Esrawa Reddy PhD, the new Drugs Controller General of India andthe subject of our post on Age of Autism this morning, is the scion of the Dr Reddy generic pharmaceutical dynasty, but he has some interesting views. For instance, he has decreed that any applications for drugs trials that have not receive a response from his office within 30 days have automatically been given the go ahead. He also believes that over a thousand deaths from drug trials – supposing this figure is remotely accurate – over seven or eight years is perfectly acceptable….
We see here that a virtually useless drug with horrific side-effects, which is moreover notorious can remain marketed over seven decades – the victims have to fight endless battles with the manufacturers and governments for compensation and support and still there is no move to outlaw it. Could it get any worse? Unfortunately, it could. It seems to me that the unhinged pronouncements of Dr Reddy are part of a global Dutch auction by governments to offer the lowest possible standards to the pharmaceutical industry for licensing and marketing of new products.
You ain’t seen nothing yet.
Oh yes John, it could get worse, indeed, it IS worse, because for 34 + years young and not so young people have been damaged by the acne drug isotretinoin, the birth defects from which include, I understand, babies born with no brain, and no ears, and massive neurological defects so abortions are insisted upon if you get pregnant on this stuff. Women are supposedly monitored, but even men are advised not to have sex until a month after stopping the drug. I guess it is assumed that a month will get it out of their systems and so it can’t cause damage by then to the girlfriend’s baby. But what concrete research has been done, to assure them that this is definitely the case? Roche just keep telling us, when cornered, that ‘they do not know how RoAccutane/ isotretinoin works (!) but it is effective against acne….’
This drug IS worse than Thalidomide, we feel, because it allows anyone suffering side effects from it and behaving oddly because of them, to be labelled as mentally ill, and that opens the floodgates for them to have SSRIs and antipsychotics poured into them. They are then lost in a downward spiral of illness and confusion. Which leads to suicide in so many cases.
But after Thalidomide, Big Pharma have got much more adept at covering their tracks now. They have got the medics beautifully brainwashed. They site 17 million users of this drug as being fine. But are they? At least with Thalidomide the damage was obvious when the babies arrived. With RoAccutane/isotretinoin it is usually invisible but can happen at once or even years later. No one can ever be complacent about their safety when they’ve taken this medication.
And yes, we protesters and whistle blowers are indeed scared stiff of the pharmaceutical industry, particularly Roche, whose power is terrifying. But the thing is, when you’ve seen the youngster you loved and raised, being cruelly damaged by a prescribed medication, and when there is no antidote for that damage, you don’t care about your own safety any more. You fight to the death, in their memory, to save others, because that’s the very least you can do. To make their death mean something, to do some good in their name. To show how much you admire their sheer guts in their short lives which became hellish, through trusting doctors, like we all used to do.
Yes, you bet the Pharma bunch have no moral compass, the makers, sellers and nor do the prescribers of this stuff. If they had, they’d ditch the stuff and find a safe cure for acne,
We don’t want any statues to commemorate dead RoAccutane people, or those minus colons, pancreases, moving legs, arms and fingers, confused and akathisia-ridden minds. We want a safe cure for acne so that this lousy stuff is never used anymore. In the wise words of one young man, Jesse Jones, who died because of RoAccutane – “ if they can send men to the moon and do all these complicated transplants and medical procedures, are we really being expected to believe that they can’t easily find a cure for acne, or understand what causes it. No, this is about money. Acne is a wonderful money spinner for all kinds of treatments.” I’ve approximated his words here. Jesse was so right. He died, having had his life ruined, in February 2011. I know this is not the same as Thalidomide, but John asks “can it get worse”. We think what we’ve described here shows that it IS worse. And far from ending with Thalidomide, the horror and cover ups go on amidst Big Pharma foxy smiles and platitudes. It’s time we shot the fox, surely….
GSK’s blockbuster HIV drug linked with birth defects
May 21, 2018
It would be better all round if no one died.
The truth of the matter is that more and more patients are losing faith in general medical expertise as expertise is sadly lacking..
Taking this to the nth degree, are we killing off doctors .. ?
We know what its like to be on the receiving end of bullying doctors who don’t seem sympathetic in the slightest and who will go to great lengths to disabuse the patient of her unwanted notions ..
Living in their bubble, its so difficult to unwrap, them ..
I didn’t see my doctors being remotely upset with a whole package of darts at their disposal and the only feelings that were hurt were mine .. complain at your peril.
Clare Gerada #FBPE @ClareGerada May 10
It’s easy to complain. No risk to complainant . Sadly they kill doctors
Clare Gerada #FBPE @ClareGerada May 15
It should be difficult. And patients should think about it very carefully. Complaints kill
Doctors have Unions, Doctors have Time Limitations, Doctors have Intimidation, Doctors have supportive colleagues and most of all, if Doctors set themselves up as the fount of all knowledge, then they really should grow some and stop behaving as if its always all about them .. the system favours the Doctors and any complainant must realise that it is a bumpy path ahead to at least try and get some modicum of reason ..
Doctors kill their patients and patients kill their doctors .. there is something extremely backward here, that has no logic whatsoever ..
Motorways and Corridors ..
GPs have been Luddites for too long and must embrace new technology
This film is about iatrogenic harm (illness caused by medical treatment).
This film is me being naturally me
The fast lane and the slow lane ..
In all my years of working in Industry, you know, proper industry, where people make products and people sell them, I have never come across such a load of sycophantic ego twisters than those who live in their Psychiatry House ..
This guy, for instance, who recently complained to the GMC about Carmine Pariante and who has been blocked by Wendy Burn …
How ‘Drop the Disorder!’ colludes with the neoliberalism it claims to oppose
He obviously feels better to spread about his stuff, and, stuff he does spread.
Strikes me as all a bit childish ..
More interesting, is Australia and ..
Fiachra May 23, 2018 at 9:44 am
The GPs are now being deskilled so they’re keeping their heads down (to a certain extent).
Getting GPs to prescribe antidepressants has also aligned them to “Psychiatry”, and tied them in to a denial of disastrous outcomes.
Questioning the Integrity of Psychiatry ..
Fiona French @benzosarebad May 22
Antidepressants & benzodiazepines to be discussed tomorrow night 7-9 pm UK time. @DrDavidHealy myself and Marion Brown @recover2renew will be speaking. Listeners can message prog via WhatsApp or email. https://www.talkradioeurope.com
Today .. tonight ..
Thalidomide is horrific, as was Seroxat, and Avandia, Cervarix, Pandemrix, Myodil (all GSK products), Seroxat/Paxil is now notorious for birth defects, as are many other drugs. There are many other pharmaceutical compounds since Thalidomide which could be deemed defective, dangerous, bogus/whatever- and the problem we have is- Thalidomide-like scandals happen every year in the drug’s industry. The business model of the drug’s industry and the vested interests in the vast profits it needs to make- result in an utterly crooked health -system -which allows regulators and the drug’s industry to put extremely dodgy drugs on the market year after year. The sheer scale of the damage to the public is unbelievable. A new GSK whistle-blowing case is about to rock GSK. Imagine the system as it is- corrupt drug companies, hell bent on profits above patient health- hell bent on corrupting academia, doctors, psychiatrists etc, and hell bent on breaking every ethic, moral and human code in order to reap the vast profits for their shareholders, and now imagine that system 1000 times worse than you already can imagine, imagine your worst ideas of the drug’s industry and then think.. can it really be worse than all the stuff I already know about it?
Yes.. it can..
I am only one third through it so should really wait till I’ve finished it to comment, but ‘the Thalidomide Catastrophe ‘ is indeed an amazing book which we should definitely all read. The research that has gone into it is fantastic, and the revelations it makes will blow your mind away. Not just about Thalidomide itself, but showing the workings and attitudes and cover ups employed by a self satisfied and morally corrupt Big Pharma.
The links it shows to pre Second World War Pharma inventions in Germany and the rest of Europe are very interesting. I found it especially so because in the 1990’s, having suffered damage from sheep dip, (termed sheep dippers’ flu but in same cases leading to severe neurological impediment and dementia in farmers) we were shown the acetylcholine problems, and also discovered that the organophosphate in sheep dip, which affects these systems, was invented back in the 1900’s I believe, as part of mustard gas. And the constituents of mustard gas are found in chemotherapy agents. (And RoAccutane is used as a chemo drug, though this may be unconnected).
It seems that Thalidomide was being developed in the Second World War possibly as an antidote to nerve agents which Germany was also developing. So those who made it knew a lot more about it, a lot earlier than anyone was admitting in the 1960s. Do read this excellent book if you can. I have only scratched the surface.
Sorry, meant to add that mustard gas was developed by Germany, and there are links with all these same companies as in the book ‘The Thalidomide Catastrophe’.
I remember shortly after our son died, we were talking to a new friend who presides over Mental Health tribunals and had lost his own son to suicide, (not RoAccutane but most likely the SSRIs he was on) and he introduced me to the work of Kirsch and various others. we were fired up with keenness about bringing the scourge of RoAccutane to book and he said remember the guy who spent his whole life trying to get justice for the thalidomide people, he had no life but just devoted his every living waking moment to the campaign, and probably that was shortsighted. Don’t do as he did. I see he is mentioned in the book, and hope there will be more in there about this man. What people just don’t seem to get is that its the fight for justice that keeps us all going when we’ve lost someone dear to us, particularly when, horror of all horrors, we’ve buried our child. And even worse, when that child has suffered and been totally misunderstood. I can totally see why the man who campaigned gave his life for the cause. Otherwise we might as well curl up and give up. We need to talk about the lost ones, to keep them in the forefront of our minds, just like we see photos in this book of the thalidomide children, so that nothing can be denied, this actually happened to people with a drug that was known to be dangerous and probably because it had been tested during the War on the death camp victims. That was the 3rd Reich, we are in the 4th Reich now, and the denials like Truthman says, go on and on. And they go on getting away with it all. And the damage continues. But a book like this really focuses the mind and alerts one to the depths humanity will sink to in the name of profit in the Pharma industry.
And did anyone see Dr David Van Tullican (? spelling, sorry) on BBC 1 Wednesday night at 9.00pm on ‘stopping giving our children so many drugs’. Wow. I guess he will become a marked man but he is bravely doing a great job. Last night he looked at use of Calpol and Ritalin, offering mindfulness as an alternative for a riotous group of ADHD kids. He begged Johnson & Johnson to talk to us all but they wouldn’t – what a surprise…. Next week he does, wait for it, antidepressants, and how I pray that in the final week he does acne drugs including RoAccutane. Heaven knows how he got the BBC to let him do this, maybe because his previous series was so good and viewing numbers were so high. He is calm, funny, balanced, determined, and if he had more time, I guess he’d go into more depth but every little helps.
This is so interesting, how many books have been written on Thalidomide.
Compare this to the number of books written about those Pills That Steal Lives …
The Evidence, However, Is Clear was written in 2011 – The Seroxat Scandal
Many people, doctors and patients, have written books about these pills, professional experience and personal experience.
It takes a clever and knowledgable person to write The Seroxat Scandal Volume 2.
I think we are drifting this way and wouldn’t it knock spots off the whole outrageous thirty year scandal that never goes away and perhaps, compared to Thalidomide, is one of those Ultimate Catastrophes that is gaining momentum, rather than being an historical medical disaster ..
BOB FIDDAMAN @Fiddaman 6m
Whaddya wanna know? @GSK lawyers, @kslaw catching up on the past in preparation to launch an appeal, no doubt? Try phoning the plaintiff’s friends…again 🙂 #paroxetine #paxil #suicide #akathisia #JackInTheBox #Embarrassing
We have to think, how will This Disaster look in 20 years, when all the psychiatrists and gps and colleges and proponents, of such, are long gone in to grassy knolls …
I’m starting to wear my tinfoil hat off and on…
So there is a Chilean priest who just happened to be in the media for other/unrelated misbehaviours, also having ties to the top brass in the Thalidomide catastrophy?
Man, I gotta get myself on to one of those “Bilderberg meetings”, feels more and more like they all cook the soup I swim in..
So the victims of a catastrophy with direct and established links to a pharmaceutical, haven’t been properly compensated? WOW, that starts to sound familiar.
Lyric of the day: “- you’ve paid the price to come this far, just to wind up where you are, but you’re still just across the borderline” – Ry Cooder
Thalidomide, just one of those things ..
Cosy pseudo-debate …
Carmine M. Pariante @ParianteSPILab May 25
On Tue 19th June, 5pm (GMT), @joannamoncrieff and I will be joining @dannydwhittaker for a LIVE YouTube debate with audience Q&A on the topic of Antidepressants. Stay updated and/or submit your questions using the hashtag #PsychLIVEQandA. @rcpsych @BAPsych – please RT!
Spil and comments – ‘cosy pseudo-debate’ ..
Carmine on podbean …
Minds Madness and Medicine
Turns out “dangerous ideas” may be on offer at @HayFestival panel on Minds, Madness & Medicine, Sunday 5:30. Looking forward to it: https://t.co/EJqTGUYVAI https://t.co/66rudss52x
Cook the soup ..
Thalidomide was in USA from 1956 to 1962 as samples millions of pills was given out as samples