New book from Random House will tell the true story of thalidomide in America for the first time

by | Mar 26, 2023

Award-winning author Jennifer Vanderbes discovered the existence of a growing community of US survivors who had begun to find each other, and was the first to begin to interview them, and indeed bring individuals together.

She had been awarded a grant from the Alfred P Sloan Foundation and a publishing contract with Random House and HarperCollins UK to write a book about Dr. Frances Kelsey. Dr. Kelsey, an FDA employee, prevented thalidomide from being approved for use in the United States. It was while researching the book that Vanderbes learned of the actual hidden victims of this unique US tragedy.

WONDER DRUG: the Secret History of Thalidomide in America and its Hidden Victims” will reveal the whole truth about thalidomide in the United States for the first time.

Vanderbes was named a 2019-2020 National Endowment for the Humanities Public Scholar for her work on “WONDER DRUG.”

More than sixty years after the International thalidomide disaster shocked the world, American thalidomide survivors will finally be acknowledged. The book release is expected June 27, 2023. 

ADVANCE PRAISE FOR “WONDER DRUG: the Secret History of Thalidomide in America and its Hidden Victims”

“Vanderbes’s thorough investigative work and her lucid prose bring to life a little-known American tragedy. WONDER DRUG is a compelling read and reminds us why regulatory scrutiny of new drugs matters.”

–  Abraham Verghese,
New York Times bestselling author of CUTTING FOR STONE

“A tale of scientific detective work, corporate corruption on a grand scale, and human resilience in the face of repudiation and tragedy. This is narrative nonfiction at its most compelling.”

– Margot Lee Shetterly, New York Times

bestselling author of Hidden Figures

“WONDER DRUG is both a first-rate medical thriller and the searing account of a forgotten American tragedy. Drawing on six years of groundbreaking research and guided by a keen eye for the indelible detail and an unwavering moral conviction, Jennifer Vanderbes has produced a shocking saga of pharmaceutical malpractice.”

– Patrick Radden Keefe, New York Times
bestselling author of author Empire of Pain

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


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