Thursday, August 19, 2010

Wonder Drug: The Power of Words

On Tuesday evening I had the privilege of attending Caitlin McCarthy's staged reading of select scenes from her feature screenplay in development Wonder Drug.  As much as I would like to be out there attending festivals, staged readings, and other networking opportunities for screenwriters, I don't always get that opportunity, so it was a thrill to be in the audience for Wonder Drug.

Caitlin's screenplay Wonder Drug is a scientific drama about DES (diethylstilbestrol), the world's first drug disaster. Before I get into talking about the reading I have to mention that this screenplay has nominations in over 20 international film festival screenwriting competion and labs, most notably: Action on Film International Film Festival Winner, "Most Likely To Be Produced" Screenplay Award; the Hamptons Screenwriters Lab Participant; Woods Hole Film Festival Winner, Best Science Screenplay; and Illinois International Film Festival Screenplay Competition Winner. You can check out the full list of screenplay honors at:

Before attending this screening I was not familiar with DES (diethylstilbestrol), a toxic and carcenogenic synthetic estrogen that was prescribed to millions of women from 1938 until 1971 in the United States; and until the mid-1980s in parts of Latin America, Europe, Australia, and the Third World. The currently proven effects of exposure include a rare vaginal cancer in DES daughters; greater risk of breast cancer in DES mothers; abnormal reproductive organs; infertility; and high risk pregnancies.

How could something like this happen in the United States? Those questions were answered for me at the staged reading and in the Q&A that followed. The selected scenes that Caitlin presented weave together three stories of a Big Pharma executive, a feminist doctor, and thirthysomething newlywed who were impacted by DES over three decades. Under the direction of Tom Gilroy, Spring Forward, the cast does a phenominal job of illustrating the distastrous effects that DES had in their lives.

Caitlin's script Wonder Drug is inspired by true stories, she brings her personal connection as a DES daughter to the script. This isn't just another story, it's her story along with countless other women who have been exposed to DES since 1938.

Wonder Drug is currently in development. I look forward to when Caitlin and her producers get this story to the big screen because it is a story that needs to be told. We need to question pharmaceuticals companies that test drugs like DES and the FDA who goes on to approve them. What happened with the Wonder Drug DES is still happening today. Just think back to when Viox was recalled. This story needs to be told and shared with the world.

In closing, I want you all to know that not one drug company has ever apologized or accepted responsibility for the DES tragedy. Nevertheless, they have paid out millions in out-of-court settlements. Caitlin, thanks for sharing your work with me and others, it is not lost.


Caitlin McCarthy said...

Aaliyah, Thank you for your support! So glad you could make the WONDER DRUG reading. This blog post is the cherry on top!!

Aaliyah said...


I'm sorry very glad to support you and this film.

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