Sponsored Project

Tracing Thalidomide: The Story of Frances Kelsey

Rosemarie Reed
Rosemarie Reed

We wish to produce a sixty-minute television documentary on the life and times of Dr. Frances Kelsey, who exemplifies the advances of women in the global scientific community. Dr. Kelsey, a Canadian, became known as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) scientist who, despite inordinate pressure and threats from German and American pharmaceutical companies, stood her ground and prevented the distribution of the drug thalidomide in the United States. While several books have mentioned Dr. Kelsey's accomplishments, this
is the first documentary film to directly address her achievements. Through the use of Dr. Kelsey’s personal notes, Autobiographical Reflections, the Senate
Hearings on Thalidomide, and testimony from adults whose mothers were
administered thalidomide before its affects were discovered, as well as patients
now taking thalidomide.

With stock footage and photographs, B-roll, and correspondence between Dr. Kelsey and Richardson-Merrill, we will expand upon the story of an extraordinary woman who, in her first assignment for the FDA, rejected the drug company's application to sell thalidomide, which would be proven to have
devastating results. Through this documentary, the public will also learn about
the history of the drug and the individuals who fought early to remove the drug from the marketplace.

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