NEW YORK: Once-banned drug Thalidomide is back in the spotlight
with a "celebrity" spokesperson.
Former vice-presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro announced last week
she is using the infamous drug to combat multiple myeloma, a form of
Thalidomide was originally prescribed to pregnant women for morning
As a result, between 10,000 and 12,000 children were born during the
1950s and '60s with severe deformities.
Ferraro's revelation was first publicized on the Today show and The New
York Times, then was immediately picked up by the national press and
nightly news shows.
Dan Klores Communications handled the PR for Ferraro and the Multiple
Myeloma Research Foundation. However, the maker of Thalidomide insists
it did not push for this endorsement.
The Celegene Corporation of New Jersey retains Makovsky & Company as its
agency of record. "We didn't know about the Ferraro story until right
before it broke and we didn't have anything to do with it," said Donna
Ramer, MD of health services for Makovsky. "We're focusing on the next
generation of derivatives of Thalidomide without the side affects." Both
drugs are still in clinical trial.
Randolph Warren, executive director and founder of Thalidomide Victims
Association of Canada, believes the media attention has been
"The press is dragging out old footage of cute children with
disabilities but they're not showing the true horror of the tragedy that
occurred. One of the stories I saw referred to Thalidomide as a 'wonder'
drug - that's what they said when it first came out."