By Jill Arnold
This advertisement appeared in Volume 81 of the Canadian Medical Association Journal on July 1, 1959.
The text reads:
NOW SHE CAN COOK BREAKFAST AGAIN… WHEN YOU PRESCRIBE NEW MORNIDINE ™ (BRAND OF PIPAMAZINE)
A new drug with specific effectiveness in nausea and vomiting of pregnancy, Mornidine eliminates the ordeal of morning sickness.
With its selective action on the vomiting center, or the medullary chemoreceptor “trigger zone,” Mornidine possess the advantages of the phenothiazine drugs without unwanted tranquilizing activity.
Doses of 5 to 10 mg., repeated at intervals of six to eight hours,, provide excellent relief all day. In patients who are unable to retain oral medication when first seen Mornidine may be administered intramuscularly in doses of 5 mg. (1 cc.).
Mornidine is supplied as tablets of 5 mg. and as ampuls of 5 mg (1 cc.).
G.D. Searle & Co., Chicago 80, Illinois- Research in the Service of Medicine.
According to the Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Encyclopedia, pipamazine was introduced in the United States in 1959 under the trade name “Mornidine” by G.D. Searle & Co. Mornidine had post-surgical applications as well.
The drug was ultimately withdrawn from the market for causing hepatic lesions in patients. From the Food and Drug Administration [Docket No. 98N-0655]:
Pipamazine: All drug products containing pipamazine. Pipamazine, formerly marketed as Mornidine tablets and injection, was associated with hepatic lesions. Approval of the NDA for Mornidine tablets andinjection was withdrawn on July 17, 1969 (see the Federal Register of July 17, 1969 (34 FR 12051)).
The marketing of Mornidine as a morning sickness drug overlapped with the widespread prescription of thalidomide in Europe as a safe morning sickness drug for pregnant women.
Doctors in Europe first prescribed thalidomide in the late 1950s to treat anxiety, insomnia and, in pregnant women, morning sickness. It was marketed in Europe as well as in Japan, Australia and Canada. It was withdrawn from the market in the early 1960s when doctors learned that it caused devastating birth defects. About 10,000 children around the world were born with major malformations because their mothers had taken the drug during early pregnancy (3).
In 1961, doctors in Germany, Australia and Great Britain noted a significant increase in the number of babies born with severely malformed or missing arms and legs. These birth defects were traced to the use of thalidomide during early pregnancy, when a baby’s arms and legs begin to form.
The most well-known defect, a severe shortening of the arms or legs with flipper-like hands or feet, is called phocomelia. Affected babies almost always have defects on both sides and often have both the arms and legs malformed. In especially severe cases, the babies have complete absence of limbs. The drug also causes malformations of the eyes and ears, heart, genitals, kidneys and digestive tract (including the lips and mouth) (3, 5). About 40 percent of babies exposed to the drug die before or soon after delivery (5).
Thalidomide is one of the most powerful human teratogens (drugs or other agents that cause abnormal development in the embryo or fetus). Taking even a single dose of thalidomide during early pregnancy may cause major birth defects (1). Women should never take thalidomide if they could become pregnant or if they are pregnant.
But at least Mother could wake up and cook everyone bacon. Heaven knows that Father can’t figure out the percolator.