Science Isn’t Immune to Mistakes

Let’s talk about Public Safety shall we?

Is the government doing its job to make sure our food and drugs are truly safe in a *timely* manner to prevent harm?

Lead’s toxicity was recognized as early as 2000 BC. It would not be removed from household paints until 1978, or banned from gasoline in 1990.

Even a small exposure to Mercury may cause serious health problems, including damage to the nervous, digestive and immune systems. Yet it’s considered ‘safe’ to be in amalgam fillings for children 6 years and up. Thimerosal, which contains mercury, was used as a preservative in pediatric vaccines up until 2001, and still is an ingredient in Flu Shots. In trace amounts, it is still in all vaccines. Thimerosal was not removed from vaccines for infants in developing nations.

From the 1910s – late 1950s, tens of thousands of infants around the world were treated with high doses of ionizing radiation X-Rays for ‘enlarged thymus’ (a completely mistaken diagnosis), and was a standard protocol for a wide range of childhood ailments including noisy breathing, cough, runny nose, wheezing, birth marks, moles, tonsillitis, asthma, ear infections, ringworm and cystic acne. It would cause cancer later in their life.

Thalidomide was an anti-nausea drug prescribed to pregnant women in the 1950s. Over 10,000 infants experienced severe birth defects before the drug would be withdrawn from the market in 1961.

From the mid-1930s – mid-1960s over 50,000 lobotomies we performed in the US, which involved inserting an ice-pick like instrument through a person’s tear duct in the eye and severing connections in the brain. It was used to treat everything from mild depression, migraines, schizophrenia and postpartum depression.

DDT was discovered in the 1940s and quickly became used for insect control in crop and livestock, institutions, homes and gardens. DDT was dusted directly on people, and was also used in anti-polio campaigns, spraying children to “prevent” polio. Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring” exposed the dangers of the insecticide in 1962, but it took another decade before the EPA would ban the biopersistent toxin.

Tetracycline was discovered to cause tooth discoloration in children in 1956. It took until 1970 before a warning label would be attached to all tetracycline-class antibiotics advising against use in children under the age of 8 years.

In the 1960s and 1970s, an oral hormone-based medication called Primodos was prescribed to women to detect pregnancy or induce menstruation in women who were not pregnant. It was given to over 1 million women in the UK. It resulted in severe birth defects: children with missing limbs, brain damage, heart defects and spina bifida. It was not withdrawn from the market until 1978. Astonishingly, a November 2017 UK Commission on Human Medicines found no evidence of a “casual association” between Primodos and severe disablilities in babies. Then a February 2018 study found that the drug had the potential to deform embryos in the womb.

Tylenol was first suspected to cause liver damage when combined with alcohol in the early 1980s. The FDA did not put a warning label on Tylenol or products containing acetaminophen until 1994. Acetaminophen is also an ingredient in Darvocet, Percocet, and Vicodin, as well as over-the-counter cold and flu products like NyQuil and TheraFlu, Excedrin’s migraine headache products, and even some varieties of Alka-Seltzer.

From the roll-call, we aren’t doing great.