The Evil That Men Do
The Story of Thalidomide [a radio play]
- Published in Black Eye and Other Short Plays.
- Broadcast on KRCL radio, Salt Lake City, UT.
The Evil That Men Do (title taken from a Shakespeare play) is the story of Dr. Frances (“Frankie”) Kelsey’s fight to keep thalidomide out of America. The play traces the development of her friendship with Dr. Barbara Moulton, who resigned from the FDA and was testifying against the agency’s corruption at the time when Frances was hired. In her courageous act of befriending a whistle-blower, Frances was laying the foundation for her subsequent battles with the drug companies.
The play unveils the conspiracy between the German manufacturers, the American distributor, and the officials in the FDA to pressure Frances to issue a license for “the sleeping pill of the century.” Frances plays for time against the good-old-boy network, while the horrifying evidence mounts that thalidomide, prescribed as a cure for morning sickness, causes severe birth defects.
Since 1960, the date of the thalidomide “scare” in this country, companies whose products are designed for women have continued to follow dangerous and deceptive practices. In 1991, a Texas jury awarded $33 million in damages to the parents of a child born with birth defects as a result of taking Bendectin, an anti-nausea drug, which had been on the market since the 1950’s with no testing for its effect on human fetuses.
The Evil That Men Do is an old, old story—but one which points a moral for a happier ending.
Three women, eight men