Why We Can’t Have the Male Pill -Bloomberg Businessweek
The trouble began, as it so often does, with a bottle of Chivas Regal.
Back in the 1950s, scientists at Sterling Drug, a now-defunct pharmaceutical company, synthesized a class of chemicals that made male rats temporarily infertile. They thought they might be onto something big: the first-ever birth control pill—for men. After identifying several promising compounds, including one known as WIN 18,446, a trio of researchers began testing them on a ready population, inmates at the Oregon State Penitentiary.
The results were astonishing. Within 12 weeks, the inmates’ sperm counts had plummeted. When the men stopped taking the drugs, sperm production returned to normal. Better yet, they experienced few side effects.
Then one of the participants drank some contraband Scotch and became unusually, violently ill. He confessed his transgression to the researchers, and follow-up studies confirmed his account: WIN 18,446 didn’t mix well with booze. Men who combined the two reported heart palpitations, sweating, nausea, and vomiting. The research was quietly abandoned.
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