The Duogynon controversy and ignorance production in post-thalidomide West Germany

Birgit Nemec, Jesse Olszynko-Gryn

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2 Citations (Scopus)
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This article examines the West German controversy over Duogynon, a ‘hormone pregnancy test’ and the drug at the centre of the first major, international debate over iatrogenic birth defects in the post-thalidomide era. It recovers an asymmetrical power struggle over the uneven distribution of biomedical knowledge and ignorance (about teratogenic risk) that pitted parent-activists, whistleblowers and investigative journalists against industrialists, scientific experts and government officials. It sheds new light on the nexus of reproduction, disability, epidemiology and health activism in West Germany. In addition, it begins to recover an internationally influential discourse that, in the post-thalidomide world, seems to have resuscitated antenatal drug use as safe until proven harmful.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)75-86
Number of pages12
JournalReproductive Biomedicine & Society Online
Early online date19 Oct 2021
Publication statusPublished - 31 Mar 2022


  • congenital malformations
  • health activism
  • ignorance production
  • Schering AG
  • pregnancy testing
  • West Germany


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