Book Review: WONDER DRUG

by | Jul 13, 2023

This book for me has been 61 years in the making. I am a character in the book — honestly, I really am. And so are a lot of my friends from U.S. Thalidomide Survivors, a nonprofit formed only a few years ago in 2018. This book is us. This book literally helped us find each other.

Can you imagine wondering all of your life why you look like all of the thalidomide survivors in Europe, and asking questions of doctors all your life, but being told that the FDA never approved the drug in our country, and it was never here? Can you imagine rewriting your history when you were in your late 50s? Finally learning the truth?

That is why I say this book will change history. It already is doing so. While it was previously mis-reported that the US escaped the thalidomide tragedy, this book shows us all that it did not. It introduces new information.

Jennifer Vanderbes illuminates the disturbing story of how thalidomide was handed out by United States drug companies, eager to get ahead of what they thought would be FDA approval (which never came) to doctors all across the country; who, in turn, gave it out to patients who often did not know what drug they were being given. This included pregnant women. This included my mother.

And her book goes on to show how US authorities, including the FDA, did not adequately investigate once the dangers of thalidomide were discovered. They did not track down the patients who had received it. They did not notify the unwitting victims and failed to find the babies affected.

Wonder Drug is a riveting read, so well-told and well-researched! The old statistics are out and the new ones are here. The casualties of this dark chapter in American history come to life in Jennifer’s book. I personally am proud she did our stories justice. Please read, share, and amplify this important new truth!

John Marshall

Most of us participated in a guided tour of the US Capitol Building. Most impressive, in my opinion, was the Rotunda, the infamous domed circular room in the center of the Capitol. The historical paintings i.e., the Declaration of Independence along with the statues and busts of former presidents were impressive. BUT no one could resist looking up!

The conference was a jam-packed three days ending with a “roaming” dinner in the hotel. The term is used lightly, as it turns out, we have a party animal in our midst. Our fearless leader, JoJo Calora, had quite the set-up in his room. He had karaoke goin’ on. He also cranked up the tunes and blasted out heavy metal! Did you know there’s a song about thalidomide? It’s called “Prescribing Horror” by Exodus. You shouldn’t listen to it before you go to sleep. LOL! Fortunately, no neighbors complained, and fun was had by all. Although there was food, snacks, and drinks in three other rooms, people didn’t roam much. JoJo had the fun room! Can’t wait for next year!

Robert Gamble, JoJo and Elizabeth


We consider this conference successful! We are moving forward with our campaign and we can’t do it alone. We need YOUR help! Write your senators and representatives! Tell your friends what we have learned. One person could be the link we need to be heard. Be a part of our success story!

Need assistance with this process? Please call our info line (612-440-1920) and we’ll connect you with our legislative committee!