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To the Editor.—
Remember thalidomide? That was the tranquilizer drug developed some years ago in Germany that, although useful for the purpose for which it was developed, was found to have the unfortunate side effect of causing severe birth defects in children whose mothers were inadvertently or inadvisedly given the drug during the early stages of pregnancy. For this reason, further manufacture and sale of the drug was forbidden. In this country, the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) refused to license the drug for manufacture and distribution.Following the 1973 US Supreme Court's abortion decision legalizing abortion on demand, the Upjohn Co.'s new drug, Prostin F2-alpha, was placed on the market in December 1973, having been cleared and licensed by the FDA for manufacture and sale as an abortifacient. According to spokesmen for the FDA, this agency had no choice but to approve the drug since it had been
McWhirter WW. Thalidomide Revisited. JAMA. 1974;229(13):1724. doi:10.1001/jama.1974.03230510016011