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A life shaped by bad medicine
Jack Merica’s arms and hands are underdeveloped due to the anti-morning sickness drug thalidomide that his mother took while pregnant with him in the late 1950s.
September 6th, 2012
08:27 AM ET

A life shaped by bad medicine

By Jim Roope, CNN

(CNN) - Jack Merica’s mother suffered from severe morning sickness and a history of miscarriages. When she was pregnant with him in the late 1950s, the morning sickness came back. Concerned that her symptoms could bring on another miscarriage, she went to the doctor. To fight the sickness, she was given the experimental drug thalidomide.

[1:36] “My Mom said she just took it once or twice,” said Merica. “And that’s all it takes.”

Merica was born with asymmetrical-bilateral phocomelia, a condition in which the upper part of an arm or leg is under-developed or non-existent. His left arm is 16 inches from shoulder to fingertip and his right arm is 28 inches, shoulder to fingertip.

[1:56] “All they told her was that it was a birth defect,” said Merica “That it was just one of those things.”

Merica said the doctors didn’t connect his mother’s use of thalidomide with his condition. But she did. Sitting in the waiting room of her pediatrician’s office in 1964, when she opened Life magazine to a story with pictures of children in Europe with birth defects linked to thalidomide.

[2:31] “I remember pointing out to her that one little girl’s arm looked just like my left arm,” said Merica. “She put two and two together.”

The doctors told Merica that it was something he’d just have to live with.

Listen to the complete story in the above player and join the conversation below.

soundoff (88 Responses)
  1. Emily

    I was pregnant in 1960 and had such bad morning sickness that I had to pin my skirts to my sweaters or they would otherwise fall off. My dear old GP told me there was a so-called wonder drug that claimed it would cure the morning sickness with no side effects -thalidimide. My GP said he did not believe a pregnant woman should take any drug that had not been used for 2 generations – and just hang on until the 3rd trimester. I have never forgotten him or his wise words. I also feel so powerfully relieved when I see people like Jack who have survived the impact of that drug with grace. Jack, my boy, well done.

    September 12, 2012 at 6:42 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Danielle

    This man has such kind eyes, you can tell that he is a wonderful person. Jack, you are an inspiration and I applaud your courage.

    September 7, 2012 at 10:57 am | Report abuse |
  3. Elliot Spitzer

    one weird looking dude

    September 7, 2012 at 4:36 am | Report abuse |
    • Elliot Spitzer

      hahaha, assberry?

      September 7, 2012 at 4:41 am | Report abuse |
    • Jewels

      Are you kidding me? How dare you post something like that. Ignorance!

      September 7, 2012 at 9:11 am | Report abuse |
    • Kimberly

      Hey - that's my Uncle Jack. Fuck off.

      September 7, 2012 at 5:55 pm | Report abuse |
      • Jack Merica

        ;^D

        September 7, 2012 at 6:20 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Rainbo

    In 1962 when I was 11, my parents sent me to Germany for summer vacation. I met a family with a 3 year old boy with thalidomide birth defects. He had no arms, just hands growing out of his shoulders. He was one of the happiest children I have ever met and he had adapted well to his condition. I always wondered about him through the years.

    Many people born with handicaps don't feel handicapped and I thihnk the reason is that if you never had it to begin with, you didn't miss it and you adapted.

    We don't hear much about thalidomide children anymore and coincidentally I wrote an editorial on this topic not too long ago to illustrate why government regulations are not always a bad thing.

    Thanks for sharing your story Mr. Merica

    September 7, 2012 at 2:50 am | Report abuse |
    • ScepticStill

      ".....We don't hear much about thalidomide children anymore........."
      I guess thats because (being born in the 50s & 60s) they are thalidomide 50 year olds.
      years ago I saw a documentary on a thalidomide girl in japan, she had no hands or arms. she only had her feet and legs. what she could do was rather amazing, just using her feet. at the end of the documentary she cooked dinner for the film crew.

      September 7, 2012 at 3:15 am | Report abuse |
    • Lou Duignan

      WHAT THE HELL DOES A THREE YEAR OLD KNOW ABOUT LIFE!? NOW IF YOU TALK ABOUT A MATURE ADULT AND HOW HAPPY AND ECSTATIC ABOUT THEIR UNUSUAL LIFE – THAN YOU HAVE SOMETHING. RIDICULOUS!

      September 8, 2012 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Peggy

    I am a DES baby from the late 50's. I am one of the lucky ones, I never had any of the odd problems or cancers that other DES babies had to endure as they matured. Thanks to that drug, I was also never able to have children. Our mothers didn't question the drugs given to them by the doctors back then, that just wasn't done.

    Jack, thank you for speaking out. You are an inspiration.

    September 7, 2012 at 2:17 am | Report abuse |
  6. Jack Merica

    Thank you for the kind comments. I'm not a hero. I never said I was. I never gave much thought to being inspirational to others. There are other people with disablities in the world that are far more inspirational than I, Clay Dyer, for example. I agreed to talk to Mr. Roope about my story because I feel that the U.S. survivors of thalidomide have been forgotten, or worse, thought not to exist. We are here. We are alive. We exist. Thank you Mr. Roope for the opportunity to share my story. Cheers, Jack Merica

    September 7, 2012 at 1:36 am | Report abuse |
    • tom

      wow that was a cool story very insiprational

      September 7, 2012 at 1:53 am | Report abuse |
  7. letsgomets2012

    You wonder about these drugs - anybody remember the big revelation about DES?

    DES was given to those pregnant in the 1950s - it was a med that would inhibit spontaneous miscarriage.

    Years later, it was found that in women whose mother took DES during pregnancy, there was a predisposition to certain vaginal dysplasias.

    I think they are now using thalidomide for cancer patients; I read about that not long ago. Needless to say that the drug is not given to those who are pregnant.

    September 6, 2012 at 10:56 pm | Report abuse |
  8. c s

    Most people are under the illusion that luck plays a very small part in their lives. The opposite is true. No one gets to choose their parents or where they are born. Basically if you were born in the US or Europe or Japan, you hit the jack pot and you have a chance of a decent life. Billions of others will be born in some poor third world country and will have to struggle for life. I realize that a few people will overcome all handicaps and have a decent life anywhere but it still comes down to chance. You could be born a genius but if you did not have enough food and nutrients to fully develop your brain, your latent mental powers would not be able to develop.

    So be thankful that you were in the right place and right time to have a chance at a good life.

    September 6, 2012 at 10:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sarah

      CS, Thalidomide was used mainly in Europe. Guess those people don't count in your "where you are born plays a huge part" idea..

      September 6, 2012 at 11:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Busted

      Have you ever traveled beyond your parents front yard?

      September 7, 2012 at 12:40 am | Report abuse |
  9. Lunes

    This is completely unrelated, but...
    It would be hilarious if the guy's first (or middle) initial was A. Then his name would be A. Merica. >.<

    September 6, 2012 at 9:57 pm | Report abuse |
  10. James Urquhart

    Jack, you're the man... and a true hero, to boot.

    I admire, respect and envy you, and I hope and pray that life is good for you.

    September 6, 2012 at 9:10 pm | Report abuse |
  11. JGN

    I agree with 'Nutty World'. The older I get the less inclined I am to believe anything a corporation states (including bank officials), or most things doctors claim (since they sell drugs to you based on what the pharmaceutical companies tell them and know next to nothing about it themselves), and I basically do that old 70s salvo 'question authority' ALL the TIME. I truly wish I could trust that the people in power over me have my best interests at heart, but I'd have to find their heart first. What I have learned is power really does corrupt, and when there is money involved the person facing you does not give a rats ass how it turns out for YOU. And a sorrier world it is for that.

    September 6, 2012 at 9:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kate, Pharm. D.

      Well JGN, I hope you're a trained physician otherwise "the older you get" isn't going to be very much older. Good luck!

      September 6, 2012 at 10:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Deb Ed

      I agree with you. Unfortunately for me, I trusted a well known (with great credentials) neurologist in Arizona with my seizures and medications. I was on an anti-seizure med of 6,000 mgs a DAY. It wasn't until I moved to another state that the high dosage was actually causing me to have more seizures. I was basically being overdosed. If I had not gone to another doctor, the seizures the medication caused would most likely have killed me. I no longer trust everything a doctor says. I do a lot of research on medications before I will allow them to give me a script. What a sad world we live in.

      September 6, 2012 at 10:52 pm | Report abuse |
      • Doc E

        Unfortunately, Deb, this will be a trend which will only continue and perhaps worsen. Physicians continue to face more and more pay cuts while fighting the current beuracracy that has become medicine. This makes for far less qualified people in healthcare because smart people no longer are interested! Why go to school 8 years, another 3-7 years of training only to end up $300,000 in debt, working 90 hours a week, and making little more than people with 1/3rd the training who work 40 hours a week? Just something we should keep in mind as the future of healthcare rests in the balance. Do we want to make it worthwhile for smart people to continue to go into medicine or trade that for cheap imposters?

        September 9, 2012 at 7:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nutty world

      Good, JGN. You don't have to be a trained physician or distrust everyone ( goes without saying), but even doctors
      tell you to question and get 2nd, 3rd opinions. Age just means extra years of having been burned by the slickest.
      if you don't learn, your life could be shortened or you'll end your years broke and trying hard not to be regretful.
      It's jungle out there, youg'uns.

      September 7, 2012 at 12:15 am | Report abuse |
    • Sunshine100

      Soooooo glad I was a nurse for about 10 years. I recognize when Drs are B****sh****** me and "call" them on it. This also stops the patronizing attitude. Yes, Drs prescribe medicines based on what pharmaceutical sales people tell them about the drugs. I always ask about the side effects of every prescribed med. JGN: I too am of 60s & 70s era, and I always distrust big businesses, government/politicians of all ilk, and am very skeptical of pharmaceutical companies, banks, and Wall Street. Advice: people, question everything, ask questions, sift out what is true and what is not.

      September 7, 2012 at 12:18 am | Report abuse |
  12. krehator

    Bad medicine is still going on today, and we are all paying out the nose for it.

    September 6, 2012 at 8:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • deekholee

      Drugs are bad, mmmmmmmkay? Still and always.

      September 6, 2012 at 9:21 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Lance Armstrong's left nut

    EWWWWWWWW,That mna sure is UG-LY!!!!!!

    September 6, 2012 at 7:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • craig

      You are an a%&. If you want to see ugly, look in the mirror. If you really want to see really ugly, look at your mamma and papa. Only someone really ugly could spawn something as tacky as YOU.

      September 6, 2012 at 8:23 pm | Report abuse |
      • Taz

        Owch. BURN.

        September 6, 2012 at 9:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Logic

      Kill yourself.

      September 6, 2012 at 8:59 pm | Report abuse |
      • Logic

        my comment of "Kill yourself" Was directed to Lance Armstrong's left nut who called this man ugly. We need less people like you who comment such stupid things. Get out.

        September 6, 2012 at 9:00 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Carolyn Young

    One point that is being complete missed here is that we continue to test on animals thinking that these results translate to humans. Bad idea for both people and animals. During testing, thalidomide was considered safe for animals. You can also read on any pharmaceutical information sheet under what happens if a pregnant person takes that particular medication. You will be informed (paraphrased) that X number of pregnant cats/mice/etc were tested and XX are the results but the drug company is not sure about the side effects on humans. This is just needless suffering for both animals (who get tested) and humans (who suffer ill effects). We must to continue to look for alternate ways to test medications.

    September 6, 2012 at 6:58 pm | Report abuse |
  15. hopealive

    Thank you for sharing your story, Jack. Keep smiling. You are an inspiration to us all.

    September 6, 2012 at 6:32 pm | Report abuse |
  16. Nutty world

    Those years, the country was functioning under a 1938 law that allowed for a trial test while the drug company
    waited for an approval by the FDA. It took 60 days for the FDA to be forced to approve it. If the FDA denied and said
    more tests were needed, it was withheld from approval for another 60 days, and so on.

    Do you need a medical degree to deduct some hapless people ( guinea pigs) might get messed up BADLy?
    Then again I remember they gave the Doc a Nobel prize for inventing lobotomy ( the miracle twirl and scramble
    eggs technique). the older I get, the more I distrust people, corporations, government, the dog next door-wait, I still trust
    the dog next door.

    September 6, 2012 at 6:00 pm | Report abuse |
  17. Caterina

    Those that have been affected should receive compensation in some form, if not just monetarily.

    it takes courage and inner strength to step up and bare oneself to the public and tell a story that is not comfortable or pretty that fits the mainstream niceties. Kudos to you, Jack.

    September 6, 2012 at 5:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dunlar

      If you can get your hands on an "M" encyclopedia, from the '50s, look up "marijuana". You'll be shocked.

      September 6, 2012 at 6:32 pm | Report abuse |
      • why?

        man you potheads cannot quit thinking about a simple weed 24/7 can you?

        September 6, 2012 at 6:36 pm | Report abuse |
  18. Just call me Lucifer

    They categorize marijuana as a controlled "dangerous" substance. Is there any viable proof that it is dangerous?
    Just think, if the moms of all the thalidomide babies smoked cannabis instead of taking thalidomide, there would be no thalidomide babies. I'd like to thank the christian religion for the backward thinking that made cannabis illegal.
    If it makes you feel good, it must vbe bad for you.

    September 6, 2012 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • andrew

      seriously? I'm all for marijuana legalization, but definitely not for pregnant mothers!! Are you serious? Smoking is bad for your lungs, and for babies lungs. I know this, I've smoked a lot of MJ. Also, do you really want those little babies getting high? I'm a smart guy, and I don't think mj has damaged my brain, but it can't be good for a developing babies brain. Cmon man!

      September 6, 2012 at 4:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Anomic Office Drone

      Smoking is pretty much always bad because of the tar, but there are plenty of medicinal cannabis solutions that could help with morning sickness that are ingested and not smoked.

      That said, studies do show that developing brains are hindered by marijuana (i.e. anyone who is not a fully grown adult). It might not be good for the fetus.

      September 6, 2012 at 5:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mitch

      You are one of the unfortunate reasons why cannabis is having such a hard time becoming legalized. Your suggestion of women smoking cannabis while pregnant (wtf? really?) is ungodly retarded. Yes, cannabis will be very bad for a developing fetus.

      September 6, 2012 at 5:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dennie

      He does have a point.

      September 6, 2012 at 9:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Quixoticelixer

      "is there any proof that it is dangerous?" Adolescents and young adults who use the drug have a proportionally higher risk of developing schizophrenia as a direct result. That's a pretty big risk factor.

      September 6, 2012 at 10:46 pm | Report abuse |
  19. AndreaDee

    Thank you Mr. Merica for sharing your story. I'm sure there are people who have never heard of it before, and will further educate themselves and realize the daily struggles you endure. As for all of the other negative posts on here.....shame on you. Karma is a B........

    September 6, 2012 at 4:43 pm | Report abuse |
  20. KittyKat

    Why would I want to do that? I'm not sure why you are mentioning Obama. Did he have something to do with birth defects?

    September 6, 2012 at 4:34 pm | Report abuse |
  21. bingo

    Thalidomide was never approved by the FDA for use in the United States. The people who took it should question thier doctors, they are the ones who went out of country and brought it back. Giving it to their patients not fully understanding the side effects.

    September 6, 2012 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Experimental For a Reason

      This drug was given to approximately 20,000 patients in the U.S. as part of a clinical trial. They key word in the article is "experimental'. No experimental drugs have approval until they clinical trials and studies are completed and have found them within safe limits. This 'experimental' drug underwent a clinical trial and it failed. Unfortunately for those patients this is the outcome. It is terrible, but there is a reason why taking experimental drugs in this day and age requires informed consents, waivers, and all sorts of legal mumbo jumbo.

      September 6, 2012 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
      • Sunshine100

        True, oh so unfortunately true. It was an experimental drug and given to American women based on fact it help European women so successfully. Took a couple of years before news of Europe's birth defects made it across the pond and was splashed across America's news media. Thaliomide's devastating results provoked every mother's guilt.

        September 7, 2012 at 12:30 am | Report abuse |
    • Sam

      While correct that it wasn't approved by the FDA, according to Wikipedia, it was distributed in the USA as part of an experimental trial. Also, thalidomide is an enantiomeric compound. The same arrangement of atoms can have two different structures. Only one of the structures is teratogenic. Wikipedia says that the two structures interconvert but doesn't give the rate constant for that. I had heard a number of years ago that the original successful trials of thalidomide didn't produce birth defects and it was due to the synthesis used – it only made the non-teratogenic enantiomer. If it can interconvert, over time the teratogenic enantiomer will grow in over time. The story that I read said that the production synthesis created a racemic mixture of the enantiomers from the very start and that was the process that led to all the birth defects in later trials and use. If that is true, it is very sad but could be just a mistake on the part of the synthetic chemists who designed the process that led to all the problems – not to excuse it. But people should also remember this was decades ago when the potential consequences weren't as well understood.

      September 6, 2012 at 6:28 pm | Report abuse |
      • Sunshine100

        Your information "sounds" sound, but because of the intricate scientific medical terminology unknown to most people, I propose most people have no idea what you said.

        September 7, 2012 at 12:32 am | Report abuse |
      • Sunshine100

        Sam, Your information "sounds" sound, but because of the intricate scientific medical terminology unknown to most people, I propose most people have no idea what you said.

        September 7, 2012 at 12:34 am | Report abuse |
  22. Lou

    You know what helped my girlfriend with her morning sickness? Cannabis. Legalize it, just say no to pharmaceuticals.

    September 6, 2012 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kathleen

      Cannabis? Seriously? Pregnant women should absolutely not use alcohol and recreational drugs (medicinal or not). There are also lists of prescription and over the counter medications pregnant women cannot take. For example, women should not take ibuprofen, especially in the last trimester. There is plenty of evidence about the potential effects on the fetus.

      September 6, 2012 at 4:42 pm | Report abuse |
      • Just call me Lucifer

        I like how you categorize cannabis as a "recreational" drug, because thats how society has been led to define it with the help of the religious right (who are always wrong).
        Cannabis, the "recreational" drug saved my brothers life when severe nausea almost killed him. There was no recreation involved.

        September 6, 2012 at 4:56 pm | Report abuse |
      • Caterina

        Actually, Kathleen, ibuprofen CAN be taken during pregnancy, but in nominal doses. Since I was unable to take my normal Mygrafew (feverfew, which is an ancient herb) for my migraines due to possible nerve damage to my unborn son, I elected the option of the lesser of two evils. The migraines didn't go away but were seriously lessened, because I only took 400mg instead of 800mg.

        Are you saying that alcohol in small doses is also bad for the fetus? If the woman is an alcoholic, yes. I had about 1/8 to 1/4 cup of red or white wine several times a week with dinner. Even when my fiance and I went out for dinner, no one questioned me. Women have been drinking wine, beer and mead for many centuries during pregnancy with no danger to the unborn baby. Doctors are even suggesting that wine is beneficial in small doses.

        As for cannabis, seriously? Have you ever heard of a birth defect caused by a woman smoking a joint?

        @ Joe Blaze – have you ever been pregnant?? Read the above line. Cancer patients take marijauna to help ease the nausea caused from the chemo. A pregnant woman can be so sick that she has to hospitalized from dehydration. Please don't be ignorant and do some homework. The internet can be used for things like educating yourself.

        http://mothering.com/pregnancy-birth/use-of-marijuana-during-pregnancy

        http://www.otispregnancy.org/files/marijuana.pdf

        September 6, 2012 at 5:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe Blaze

      Bro, I've smoked my share of dank weed in my life, and I understand that it's not as bad as people think. However, there is NEVER ANY reason that a pregnant woman should smoke weed to deal with morning sickness.

      September 6, 2012 at 4:43 pm | Report abuse |
      • Just call me Lucifer

        Like you know anything.

        September 6, 2012 at 4:58 pm | Report abuse |
  23. mizresa

    Yes, I believe they should be financially compensated but since the company has now taken all these years just to own up to what the drug has done. I don't see it happening. Good luck to Mr. Merica and all the other victims of this drug. I have read that it does help with some kinds of cancer and if it does. I say we should continue to check into it.

    September 6, 2012 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
  24. Bad Patient

    I took diamox 2-3 times for a bike ride in the mountains and i think i got stones from it. Years later I find out that it is notorious for causing stones. I took estrogen progesterone and found out later that I got an estrogen fed tumor. They seem to be bothering my liver too. I used to trust them. Rather blindly. But not now.

    September 6, 2012 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
  25. Hmm

    and you do too

    September 6, 2012 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
  26. GeorgiaTorsoGirl

    They certainly do, sir. They certainly do.

    September 6, 2012 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
  27. GeorgiaTorsoGirl

    You were born with physical defects. Big deal. That doesn't make you a friggin hero. There is no "courage" or "resiliance" involved. Our choices in life are either to play the hand we're dealt or jump in the river.

    September 6, 2012 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • dienowyousadist

      wtf are you talking about? all these mothers, babies, and families lives altered by this pharmaceutical company and their defective drug and thats all you have to say...to talk crap on the victims?? eat a bullet before you spread your infected seed to the world please

      September 6, 2012 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Enodak

      Every day takes courage whether or not you have any limitation. I hope you receive compassion should you need it for a disability, however temporary. You are correct that we all must face each day as it comes but kindness does more good than most other things.

      September 6, 2012 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • jimroopecnn

      With all due respect I think you are wrong. Many people with disabilities give up because it is just too hard. My 15-year-old son has Spinal Muscular Atrophy. He has been in a power wheelchair since he was 2-years-old. As hard as it is for him do do things like feed himself, he tries until he needs help. That, my friend is courage. Courage is that thing inside us that we use to call grit. It's what moves us forward with out outside motivation but simply because we have to move forward. Courage is trying to do something you may not be able to do completely but the failure of the action doesn't matter. It's the doing...the trying that matters. Courage is doing in the face of failure. Anyone with any disability big or small. Anyone who tries something that seems impossible. Anyone who does anything that takes guts and grit has courage. I never called my son a hero. Jack Merica never called himself a hero. But I will tell you truly, they both have courage.

      September 6, 2012 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
  28. Jamie

    I would venture to guess that this company that made this medication would pay for all medical costs related to the deformity. Also this company should be paying each individual money as compensation.

    September 6, 2012 at 2:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • jimroopecnn

      Some European victims have received some compensation but there are so many who because of their condition from thalidomide, must have caregivers, adaptive equipment, medication and other related itmes that some sort of long-term care fund has been suggested.

      September 6, 2012 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hugh Jass

      I believe there is a lawsuit ongoing. I would urge the drug company to settle and embrace the publicity; it's free and should be good press.

      September 6, 2012 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
  29. jimroopecnn

    thanks Hugh

    September 6, 2012 at 2:10 pm | Report abuse |
  30. Dan586

    But republicans nominated Romney a Mormon who doesn't even believe in the Christian Bible. Talk about Hyprocrisy

    September 6, 2012 at 1:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • brenda

      You are a Jerk Dan586 what does the Bible or anything else you have spouted about have to do with this?! JERK

      September 6, 2012 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |
  31. TRL

    I well remember this tragedy from the 50s. Yet thalidomide is also a powerful drug in the fight against multiple myeloma cancers in the brain.

    September 6, 2012 at 12:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • jimroopecnn

      This is true. Thalidomide is being used to treat other issues so the patient must be fully informed so they can make an informed decision on whether to take the treatment.

      September 6, 2012 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
  32. mrsjs15

    There was another drug from the 50's for pregnant women to keep them from miscarrying.

    The drug did nothing to the mother but it completely ruined the reproductive system of the mother's female children. I dont know the name, but a family friend and her sister are infertile because their mother took the drug... never knowing that it would cause such problems in the future....

    September 6, 2012 at 12:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • mac101

      The drug was called DES – diethylstilbestrol.

      September 6, 2012 at 12:50 pm | Report abuse |
      • It-IS-A-Crime

        My mother took that on DRs Rx and had 2 mis-carraiges after I was born, and prior to my sisters birth 5 years later – she (sister) was not able to conceive a child. Why are corporations "people"?? they dont have Normal lifetimes – or life experiences, No Emotions, No Conscience, No Responsibility!! "The Bottom Line"

        September 6, 2012 at 1:04 pm | Report abuse |
      • Hugh Jass

        Yeah, that was hard one to spot because the effects were so delayed. At least they figured it out after the fact and stopped it.

        September 6, 2012 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse |
      • Anon

        My mother took DES to keep from miss carriage of me. I wish they would do more on the effects it had on male offspring
        as I am a male with numerous autoimmune issues/

        September 6, 2012 at 5:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • knewagirl

      I don't know the name of the drug either but my aunt took it and my cousin had a horrible time having a child and many miscarriages because of it.

      September 6, 2012 at 1:36 pm | Report abuse |
  33. jimroopecnn

    What are your thoughts on whether victims of thalidomide should be monetarily compensated by Gruenenthal, the German company that manufactured and distributed the drug?

    September 6, 2012 at 12:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hugh Jass

      I'm all for it, and it should have been done long ago. Write it off as advertising; it would be good publicity.

      September 6, 2012 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • El Jefe

      At the very least, all profits the company made from thalidomide should be distributed to victims – if it is shown that they knew it was dangerous, or that they circumvented testing protocols, then the comapny should be liquidated and all proceeds divvied up to the victims.

      Now I have no idea whether they've paid compensation or not in this case. What is disturbing is that they release these drugs without putting enough thought and research into the side effects.

      Another thought – it was "experimental", correct? If so, then it's sad that anyone took it just for morning sickness. Now, someone who believed their morning sickness could cause a miscarriage, I could understand making the decision. Otherwise, it makes me think of the people who take immune-suppressant drugs for their psoriasis. Sure, you're psoriasis has gone away – and now you have cancer. Congratulations.

      Take drugs as a last resort. They're all bad for you.

      September 6, 2012 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Caterina

      They do deserve some time of compensation, even if not necessarily monetary. Wheelchairs and other equipment necessary for many of these victims (I hate using that word, but for lack of a better one to describe their situation) is expensive and rarely covered fully, if at all, by insurance. Not to mention that there is still a pre-ex condition on major medical plans.

      Special computer equipment for limbs that aren't configured normally; or the means to have a access to their own automobile, that accomodates their particular needs. i.e. hand brake/accelerator; wheelchair accessability, etc.
      Or retrofitting their living quarters, so that it is not such a struggle with daily living. Things that most of us don't even give a second thought to.

      September 6, 2012 at 5:39 pm | Report abuse |
  34. Hugh Jass

    One of the mixed blessings of thalidomide was that it never touched the brain. I've never heard of a victim who wasn't sharp as a tack. Remember, this is what scared everyone into testing things on animals first and got us passing laws. I know, the GOP hates the FDA, but this is how we'd all look without the FDA.

    September 6, 2012 at 12:31 pm | Report abuse |
  35. saltgrain

    They tried to get my mother to take thalidomide too. She refused because she never believed in taking a lot of pills.. I am thankful that was her choice. So many people look to doctors as "gods" that know best. They call it "practicing" medicine because they haven't perfected it yet... they are practicing on us. As patients, we owe it to ourselves to ask questions and don't just blindly follow one person's direction.

    September 6, 2012 at 12:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hugh Jass

      Salt, look up "Mrs Kelly's Monster" online; it's a pretty good look at how that goes. Dying Mrs Kelly allows them to take their best shot at the thing that's killing her, knowing they won't be good enough but will learn something that might save the next Mrs K.

      September 6, 2012 at 12:34 pm | Report abuse |
  36. jimroopecnn

    Jack Merica's story is one of courge, challenge, triumph and resiliency. As a parent of a child with physical disabilities, Merica's story is inspirational. As he and I discussed when the mic was off, "the body is temporary, the soul is perfect."

    September 6, 2012 at 8:47 am | Report abuse |
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