Dark Remedy and over one million other books are available for Amazon Kindle. Learn more
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

Dark Remedy: The Impact Of Thalidomide And Its Revival As A Vital Medicine Hardcover – January 9, 2001

See all 6 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price New from Used from
"Please retry"
"Please retry"
$18.95 $0.01

Best Books of the Month
See the Best Books of the Month
Want to know our Editors' picks for the best books of the month? Browse Best Books of the Month, featuring our favorite new books in more than a dozen categories.

Best Books of the Month
Best Books of the Month
Want to know our Editors' picks for the best books of the month? Browse Best Books of the Month, featuring our favorite new books in more than a dozen categories.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books; 1St Edition edition (January 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0738204048
  • ISBN-13: 978-0738204048
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5.8 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,314,735 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Twentieth-century science is too complex for any one reader's apprehension, so we look for stories that help us grasp its enormity. The jubilant discovery, demonization, and subsequent rehabilitation of thalidomide offers a wide-ranging outline of public attitudes toward science following World War II, and the authors of Dark Remedy: The Impact of Thalidomide and Its Revival As a Vital Medicine tell the story well. Historian Rock Brynner and embryologist Trent Stephens--who may have finally determined the drug's mechanism of action in 1998--treat us to both a devastating indictment of the under-regulated pharmaceutical industry of the 1950s and a penetrating study of thalidomide's reintroduction into mainstream medicine through the black market. The powerful anti-inflammatory properties of the drug make it a popular choice for treating arthritis, leprosy, some cancers, AIDS, MS, and many other debilitating illnesses, but it has only recently won grudging approval. Though the its tone can be acidic (in one instance referring to the "Utopian prosthetics custom-designed for the deformities caused by Utopian medicine"), the book is, for the most part, fair to the corporations that caused and then ignored the epidemic of birth defects, the victims who understandably tried to prevent the drug's revival, and the regulators who were too often bound by short-sighted legislation to do their jobs. The heroes and villains are larger than life, the stories and the science are equally compelling, and Dark Remedy ultimately combines the best elements of journalism and myth. --Rob Lightner

From Publishers Weekly

Thalidomide, the drug notorious for causing deformities in infants during the late 1950s and early '60s, has been back in the news--amazingly, it has been found useful in treating a range of diseases from cancer and leprosy to AIDS. Combining Stephens's expertise as a scientist researching thalidomide and novelist and historian Brynner's (The Doomsday Report) firsthand experience as a thalidomide recipient (he was given the drug to treat t a rare inflammatory disease), this compelling tale documents the history of a drug originally offered as a "safe" alternative to barbiturates (which were used by suicides). Very soon, it came to be linked to nerve damage in adults and to "flipper-like" limbs in babies born to women who took the drug. An arduous legal battle ensued, and the authors nicely highlight such figures as the FDA's Frances Kelsey, who fought successfully against the drug being approved for use in the U.S., and pediatrician Widukind Lenz, who linked thalidomide to the birth defects. In particular, however, the authors successfully convey the necessity of placing an "absolute commitment to truth" ahead of all other considerations when testing, prescribing or selling a drug. "The monster was never thalidomide itself," they claim of the drug that sparked FDA reform. While this moving account offers a chilling glimpse of how the profit motive can negatively affect many lives, it also includes a straightforward presentation of Stephens's pioneering research with thalidomide--research that he hopes will contribute to developing a truly safe alternative. (Feb.)Forecast: Brynner is the late actor Yul Brynner's son. That will undoubtedly help bring publicity to this title, which will draw a wide range of readers interested in the ethics and science of medical research.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
5 star
4 star
3 star
2 star
1 star
See all 15 customer reviews
This is well written.
Godfrey P. Oakley, Jr.
I teach that in high school and thought it was a good book for our future healthcare students to read.
D. Block
This book is a winner!
Guy F. Airey

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Rob Hardy HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on March 7, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Anyone who could pay attention to newspapers in the 1960s remembers the stories of thalidomide. Thousands of women took this super-safe sedative, or morning sickness suppressant, and found that their children were born with grotesquely stunted limbs like flippers, or perhaps no arms or legs at all. The dismal story of how thalidomide was invented, marketed, and withdrawn is a big part of the fascinating account in _Dark Remedy: The Impact of Thalidomide and its Revival as a Vital Medicine_ (Perseus Publishing), by Trent Stephens and Rock Brynner, but as the title implies, the story is not all gloom. The initial part of the story is simply shocking, with the German drug manufacturer displaying incompetence and selfishness throughout the product's development, testing, and distribution. When problems emerged, the company did a cover up, hired a detective to keep tabs on the doctors and patients who were complaining, and kept selling the drug.
The United States was a huge potential market for thalidomide. A subsidy of Vick Chemical Company (makers of Vicks VapoRub) was set to release it in the US in 1961. The company was sure it would get quick approval from the Food and Drug Administration, because at the time there was no requirement to show that the drug worked, it was up to the FDA to find any data to show any dangers, and pharmaceutical representatives did favors for FDA officials. The FDA, and the company, did not reckon on young FDA staffer Dr. Frances Kelsey, who was appalled by the sloppiness of the application. The story of the drug company's recklessness is shocking, but Dr. Kelsey's refusal to bow to heavy pressure, from both the company and her superiors in the FDA, is one of the inspiring parts of the book.
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Guy F. Airey on February 20, 2008
Format: Paperback
Dark Remedy by Brynner and Stephens is a rather scary tale of how one person, Dr. Frances Kelsey, may have just saved the people of the United States from a very trajic event in the 1960-61 era. Being a new FDA employee back then, she simply refused to permit its (ie, thalidomide) acceptance for the US (FDA approval) market, and by doing so, prevented one of the worst nightmares that could have occurred in American medical history. Many other countries had already approved the drug for use, and by doing so, suffered consequences most of us are well aware of to this date. For that one fact alone, she certainly deserved the medal given by President Kennedy and many thanks from every American. The book also shows how bullish a pharmaceutical company can be. In 1958, it boldly went through the William Merrill company, so to set up the manufacturing process, as the drug called "Kevadon" back then. We are all very fortunate, that she (Kelsay) had the will and inner guidance not to cave in to all of the pressures of lobbyists of other countries and just say "no." Their approval (other countries, I mean) earlier of this so-called "super safe" sedative caused some of the most grotesque limb malformations imaginable to people-- that totally trusted the medical community at the time. The makers of this product clearly knew the dangers, but in the interest of greed and money, openly chose to ignore the findings. Essentially, doctors and pharmacists were lied to in accepting their literature presented to our FDA. The authors state that metabolism of this product by our bodies generate over 100 byproducts, each capable of doing this or that, and I am not quite sure this is true.Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 17, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This book is a terrifying and fascinating thriller that weaves a seductive mystery about the history about one of the best known teratogens: Thalidomide. This book explores one of the first incidents that prompted the National Birth Defects Prevention Study, a program which seeks to identify anomaly inducing substances. It also outlines events that prompted the FDA to be considerably more discerning about the level of testing that goes into approving these drugs. 'Dark Remedy' brings a drug with a dark past back into the limelight as a drug with vast potential to change lives for the better. Well written and easy to read this book avoids medical jargon making it a perfect chioce for the layperson seeking to educate themselves about this tragedy. Although these children suffered, two things redeem the situation
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By David Stuart on March 15, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This short book is a compelling drama, complete with innocent victims, dark villians and compassionate and dedicated heros. But it is no simple account in black and white. Rather it is a textured retelling of the profound human tragedy of Tahlidomide, it's impact on the phamaceutical industry, the FDA's regulatory role, and the pursuit of scientific insight.
It will come as a surprise to many laypeople that Thalidomide, notorious for the extreme birth defects it caused when it burst upon the consciousness of the world in the early 1960s, is now used for the treatment of dozens of conditions. This book details the painful story of Thalidomide's devastation; the greed and indifference of it's corporate promoters; the dilligence and dedication of a handful of doctors who helped curtail it's spread, the tortured legal struggle of it's victims, and the difficult and collaborative process by which scientists discovered it's secrets and are putting it to use to relieve suffering.
The history is recounted on a human scale, making the drama real to the reader. The science, as complex as it is - including molecular structures and the mechanisms of DNA - is articulated in a way that makes it accessible even to the layperson.
I highly recommend it.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

Most Recent Customer Reviews

More About the Authors

Discover books, learn about writers, read author blogs, and more.

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?