Drug side effects

👨‍🦽 Thalidomide

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Thalidomide is a drug that was first introduced in Germany. A great drug, that could be used in the treatment of cancer, various skin diseases like leprosy, and various mental health conditions like boredom.

The drug was developed using standard evidence-based development. Manufacturers had great intentions, marketers had great intentions, initial results of the usage were great.


Then a very pathetic disaster was observed. The pregnant women who took this drug delivered deformed babies. First one case, then another, and then another. Nearly 10,000 such babies were suspected to have been born.

The babies were born without limbs and many without internal organs. This became one of the cruelest outcomes of any drug to date. 60% of the babies were lucky, they died. The remaining 40% lived up to the adolescent, not many crossed the age of 18.

This disaster became so much apparent that such babies were called Thalidomide Babies.

A Google search of the keyword can make you sick, and you may never be able to forget some of the images. The devastating deformed babies were not intentional, no way intentional, but still they happened.


Finally, in 1957, the drug was withdrawn. After four years, 10,000 destructions of innocent newborn babies, it was finally withdrawn. No one was tried, no one went to jail, no one took responsibility. Neither the doctors who prescribed this crazily and blindly, nor the manufacturers, not the drug evaluation bodies, no one.


I am a great fan of evidence-based western medicine. Multiple trials, starting with animal trials, observation of effect, studying Placebo, side effects in real usage, and so on. They have helped humans to live longer, increasing average age and quality of life.

But, there is a trade-off. Every drug has some side effects and not everybody reacts to the drug in the same way. In some cases, the risks far outweigh the rewards.


These is the reason, most successful drugs are the ones that are being developed over decades. They are marketed responsibly, the adverse effects are observed, studied and the whole caution is adopted.

Some of the great needles like that of Chicken Pox have helped millions of people, if not billions. But these needles were developed and tested for over 25 years. Minimum testing is about 3 years.

Chemotherapy is great. But the Chemodrugs are toxins. For cancer, of course, I would take chemo because I have a chance of living, but would I take them in lumps? NO WAY.


Beyond the madness of claimed “protection against a deadly virus”, marketed aggressively through authorities, no one seems to be remembering the Thalidomide disaster. If no disaster is observed in long run, well and good.

However, if your gene-altering Needles result in another Thalidomide disaster, who would be accountable?

Someone must come forward and say “hang me if things go wrong”. Anyone?

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Evidence-based western medicine has changed human lives forever. They have increased the life expectancy to almost double in the last 100 years. However, no good things in the world exist without a side effect, and so possess the drugs. Clinical trials can not take into account all different humans and user groups. Hence one must be very careful with drug usage.

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Rupam Das

Passionate, Accountable Student for Life

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