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4 Gruesome Antiquated Medical Treatments That Are Coming Back

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4. Thalidomide

The effects of thalidomide are notorious. Pregnant women took the drug in the 1950s and ’60s to treat morning sickness, unaware that it drastically altered the development of their fetuses. Their children were born with missing or deformed limbs or ears, or with malformed internal organs. Many of them died.

When thalidomide was pulled from the market, its name was dirt. No one expected to see it ever again, but it’s back.

The Food and Drug Administration has approved thalidomide (now going by the name Thalomid) for two purposes: to treat blood and bone marrow cancer, and to treat skin lesions caused by leprosy. Research into other uses is ongoing. To get your hands on it you have to go through a process called S.T.E.P.S. to prevent thalidomide pregnancies.

Even though it is an old drug, taking thalidomide will cost you — $4,000 per month, according to one report from Canada, but since then Thalomid’s manufacturer agreed to lower the price in Canada. (That change came after a long tussle with the government.) In 2005, The New York Times put the cost of one year of Thalomid treatment in the U.S. at $25,000. According to a biotechnology analyst, drug makers in cases like Thalomid charge what the market will bear, regardless of what it cost them to manufacture the drug.

Who would have thought 50 years ago that rather than avoiding thalidomide like the plague, people would be forking over their life’s savings to get it? How the times do change.

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164 comments

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8:05AM PST on Mar 3, 2013

pretty scary. bleh

4:02PM PST on Jan 10, 2013

I honestly don't see what the issue is, as long as the patient gives their consent. Honestly, I'd rather live, be it due to maggots, leeches and many other fairly gross things if the alternative is dying. If you had your finger cut off, would you stick it in your mouth so there's a chance they can reattach it in the hospital?

Granted, these things are, as you point out, based on old practice, but that doesn't mean that they haven't evolved it. Tools and treatments and basic knowledge gets better every day. Just because it has a bad rep due to the past, doesn't mean its improved form can't be good now.

10:40PM PST on Jan 3, 2013

yuk....hope i never have an ailment that calls for any of these treatments...

1:54PM PST on Jan 1, 2013

I have ever heard that leeches help as medicine but gross....all of these make me yikes!!!



9:45AM PST on Dec 31, 2012

Thalidomide, or Neurosedyn as it was called in Sweden, cost the manufacturers millions and millions in legal fees and restitution all around the world. Now they are taking that back by leaching off needy patients. Nothing surprises me when it comes to Big C, and in this case, Big Pharma.

5:22AM PST on Dec 30, 2012

Well, if they work...

8:10PM PST on Dec 25, 2012

yuck..

2:00PM PST on Dec 25, 2012

Whatever Works.

9:02AM PST on Dec 22, 2012

if its a case of life or maggots then guess it would have to be maggots

5:33PM PST on Dec 19, 2012

Grrrr@thalomid

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