Welcome to Chemistry Connections, my name is Eve O’Leary and I am your host for Episode 7 called Pharmaceutical Chemistry. Today I will be discussing The Thalidomide Tragedy.
Developed in Germany in the 1950s, thalidomide is a sedative drug that was administered to pregnant women experiencing morning sickness and insomnia associated with pregnancy. After its five years spent on the market, it was later discovered that the medicine was the cause for babies being born with a rare birth defect, phocomelia, resulting in severely malformed and underdeveloped limbs.
The drug was withdrawn from shelves by the German distributor, Chemie Grunenthal on November 26, 1961 and was recalled from British shelves on December 2, 1961.
Before we start talking about why thalidomide had the effects that it had, let's start by talking about some of its general properties. Below is the chemical structure of thalidomide compound (C13H10N2O4).
Thalidomide contains several different intermolecular forces:
Now that we have a good understanding about the properties of thalidomide, a key understanding of chirality is essential in explaining the issue with the drug. Chirality, key to organic chemistry, is a geometric property used to describe mirror image isomers, called enantiomers, that are not superimposable.
See if you can identify the structural difference between the two isomers:
Segment 3: Personal Connections
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