book cover: Christer Nordlund: Hormones of Life (2011)
Hormones of Life : Endocrinology, the Pharmaceutical Industry, and the Dream of a Remedy for Sterility, 1930–1970

In the summer of 1948, the Danish pharmaceutical company Leo called a press conference. The next day, news spread that in collaboration with scientists at the Royal Caroline Hospital in Stockholm, the company had discovered a cure for sterility to be called Gonadex. At the time, Gonadex appeared at the forefront of research in endocrinology. Today, however, few remember that this drug ever existed. What went into its design and development? How was it launched and received? And why did it remain on the market for decades despite never actually showing results? By answering these questions, the aim of this paper is to demonstrate some significant changes in the moral economy of pharmaceutical hormone research that took place in the first part of the 20th century. These changes gave rise to and were shaped by increasing interaction and reciprocity between pharmaceutical firms, academic life scientist and physicians, and they affected not only research and production but also public marketing of drugs such as Gonadex.

Science History Publications