Heresies

Pharmaceutical Holiday

Can you imagine the FDA approving a drug that, say, increased the risk of blood clots, hypertension, stroke, heart attacks, breast cancer, and migraines for women?  And fathom, if you will, the absurd notion that such a drug could be approved for the treatment of something that isn’t even a disease, a genetic abnormality, or a mental disorder but the very way that God designed women’s bodies to work.

Well, fasten your Malthusian belts, because they did.  Now here’s where you’d expect a very special Dateline NBC exposé or an investigative report from Katie Couric to unmask this conspiratorial threat to women’s health.  Instead, she called it “a tiny tablet that revolutionized women’s health,” before blasting the government for not giving it to every single woman for free.

And then the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Boston Globe, Time, and all of the TV networks threw a party to celebrate its birthday.

In the mid-1950’s, when many American women were using Lysol to keep from having babies, Gideon Daniel (“G.D.”) Searle (formerly of Metamucil fame) struck gold.  Frank Colton, a researcher at his pharmaceutical company in Sko­kie, Illinois, had created a synthetic progesterone compound (norethynodrel), with a mind to curing “female problems.”  Dr. Gregory Pincus heard about...

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