Drugs: New Use for Thalidomide?

For 19 months, the 44-year-old leprosy patient lay in Jerusalem's Rothschild Hadassah University Hospital, plagued with insomnia and skin eruptions, muscle and joint pains, and high fever—the devilish collection of leprosy-caused symptoms known as lepra reaction. In a last-ditch effort to ease his pain and that of five similarly afflicted patients, Israeli Dermatologists Felix Sagher and Jakob Sheskin decided last November to try an unorthodox remedy: thalidomide.

It was no secret that the drug was an effective tranquilizer, but it had been withdrawn from the market after thousands of pregnant women who...

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