Reviews TV

Horizon: Thalidomide: A Second Chance?

BMJ 2004; 328 doi: (Published 12 February 2004) Cite this as: BMJ 2004;328:412
  1. Vittal Katikireddi (, final year medical student
  1. University of Edinburgh, and BMJ Clegg scholar

    BBC 2, 12 February at 9 pm

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    Few, if any, drugs have achieved the notoriety of thalidomide. Serendipitously discovered in 1954, thalidomide caused congenital birth defects in thousands of children, and has been one of the most cautionary tales in the history of medicine. But has its age of redemption come? Could it be the “new wonder drug” that many researchers hope?

    This episode of the BBC science documentary series Horizon introduced us to Dr Chase Peterson. Dr Peterson, the programme explained, is a man who should be dead: he has the blood cancer multiple myeloma, which is usually lethal in between two and five years. After conventional treatment (chemotherapy and bone marrow transplantation) had failed, Dr Peterson tried an experimental drug that he hoped would get …

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