I was born four months before Thalidomide was banned.
I remember my mum telling me when I was growing up that I had a lucky escape. She didn't believe in taking pills. Unlike many, she resisted the seductive advertising they put out for it.
They sold Thalidomide as a remedy for morning sickness. When you're puking up every day for three months, I can see how attractive a miracle cure would be. But like many miracles it proved too good to be true.
Back in the late 50s and early 60s, doctors believed that medication taken by the mother could not affect her unborn child. These days that seems like a ridiculous assumption. And Thalidomide proved how wrong the idea was.
It had a devastating effect on the growing foetus. Tens of thousands of children were born with malformed limbs and other defects. Several thousand babies died from exposure to the drug.
Now drug testing is more comprehensive. Action was taken, but the same forces are at work today that shaped the Thalidomide disaster. The big pharma companies still wow us with a new miracle cure every few years.
Prozac was the non-addictive anti-depressant.
Statins were the side-effect free treatment for strokes.
We seem to be slaves to the magic bullet to end our problems. And highly forgetful of recent medical history. But when we are in pain or distressed by other symptoms, it is so hard to be rational. Or tough enough to resist the immense promotional power of industrial medicine.
Our patients take that bold step.