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Thalidomide. The Phoenix Drug. History. Medicines are poisonous – indeed, up to a century ago the medicines given were more likely to kill than cure the patient! E.g. arsenic for syphilis, strychnine for a failing heart etc. History.

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thalidomide

Thalidomide

The Phoenix Drug

history
History
  • Medicines are poisonous – indeed, up to a century ago the medicines given were more likely to kill than cure the patient!
  • E.g. arsenic for syphilis, strychnine for a failing heart etc.
history1
History
  • This all started to change with the discovery of sulphonamides and penicillins in the early 20th Century
  • Medicines could safely cure the patient – great advances began to be made in therapy.
thalidomide1
Thalidomide
  • Synthesised in early 1950’s by CIBA in Switzerland as a potential new medicine but they could not find any use for it.
  • Development discontinued in 1953.
chemie gruenenthal
Chemie Gruenenthal
  • Taken up in 1954 by Chemie Gruenenthal and developed first as an anti-convulsant (ineffective!), then as an anti-histamine (ineffective!) and finally as sedative.
  • Found to be particularly useful to treat morning sickness.
side effects of thalidomide
Side Effects of Thalidomide
  • Started to be noticed in late 1950’s but took time to associate effects with thalidomide
  • Manufacturers at this time were promoting the medicine as safe.
side effects of thalidomide1
Side Effects of Thalidomide
  • Severe limb abnormalities in children of mothers taking thalidomide
  • Also deafness, blindness, cleft palate, internal abnormalities
thalidomide withdrawn
Thalidomide Withdrawn!
  • Pioneering work by Frances Kelsey in the USA finally convinced the manufacturers and the World of the link between thalidomide and the horrific birth defects.
  • Thalidomide was finally withdrawn in 1961 (1962 in some countries).
thalidomide s legacy
Thalidomide’s Legacy
  • 1000’s of people (now adults) with limb abnormalities (their children are OK)
  • Directly led to extensive safety testing of drugs before release on to market (FDA, CSM) – thalidomide never tested!
  • Thalidomide became a research tool – some very useful effects
new research areas
New research areas
  • Thalidomide has been shown to be of use in a variety of conditions:- it inhibits angiogenesis (development of new blood vessels) – use in cancer- it is anti-inflammatory- it stimulates the immune system – tuberculosis in AIDS patients
thalidomide rises from the ashes
Thalidomide rises from the ashes!
  • In 1998 thalidomide was licensed for treatment of one form of leprosy- ENL (Erythema Nodosum Laprosum)- amazingly effective and successful- WHO showed 99% of patients improved significantly- hailed as a wonder drug (again!)