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Dr. Frances Kelsey, Who Saved American Babies From Thalidomide, Dies At 101

Aug 09

circletimessquare writes: Plenty of regulations are bad (some because big business corrupts them) but the simple truth is modern society cannot function without effective government regulation. It keeps are food safe, our rivers clean, and our economy healthy. Passing away at age 101 Friday was a woman who personified this lesson. In 1960 the F.D.A. tasked Dr. Frances Kelsey with evaluating a drug used in Europe for treating morning sickness. She noticed something troubling, and asked the manufacturer William S. Merrell Co. for more data. “Thus began a fateful test of wills. Merrell responded. Dr. Kelsey wanted more. Merrell complained to Dr. Kelsey’s bosses, calling her a petty bureaucrat. She persisted. On it went. But by late 1961, the terrible evidence was pouring in. The drug — better known by its generic name, thalidomide — was causing thousands of babies in Europe, Britain, Canada and the Middle East to be born with flipperlike arms and legs and other defects.” Without Dr. Kelsey’s scientific and regulatory persistence in the face of mindless greed, thousands of Americans would have suffered a horrible fate.


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