Medicine: Sleeping Pill Nightmare

What seemed, when first tested a few years ago, to be the ideal sleeping pill has turned into a frightening medical nightmare. The drug is thalidomide; it has been widely used in Western Europe (except France) under the names Contergan and Softenon, in Britain as Distaval, and in Brazil and Japan. In Canada, and (under heavy restrictions) in the U.S., it is distributed as Kevadon. Not a barbiturate, thalidomide quickly induces sleep and seldom leaves a hangover. It appears virtually impossible to commit suicide with it; 188 people are known to have tried...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!