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Thalidomide: Understanding the purity and chirality of drugs and their metabolites

It was the Softenon disaster that made the pharmaceutical industry fully aware of the importance of knowing the enantiomeric purity and chirality of drugs and their metabolites. This disaster involved the chiral drug Thalidomide that was sold in the 1950s as a racemate under various brand names such as Contergan and Softenon. It was shown in the early 1960s that only the R-enantiomer has the intended pharmaceutical effect and that the S-enantiomer, when the drug is used by pregnant females, may lead to serious issues including miscarriages.
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