Loss of a Hero in Fertility

Loss of a Hero in Fertility

Mr. Frank Palopoli, the chemist who developed a drug to treat infertility and subfertility due to anovulatory tendencies died this past Saturday.  He was 94. The drug he helped into existence, Clomiphene citrate, which came to be marketed as Clomid, helps to induce ovulation. Due to it’s safe and effective ability to address infertility through the stimulation of natural hormone production it has been placed on the World Health Organization’s List of Essential Medicines, and remains the only ovulation inducer included. Though the drug was first developed in Palopoli’s lab in 1950 it was took 17 years to come to market, and remains in use today.

It has been shown that the use of clomiphene citrate, in women who experience anovulatory infertility, can increase the chances of pregnancy such that their fertility during treatment can be considered normal. This has allowed many people that previously would have been unable to conceive to do so either naturally or through in vitro fertilization or intrauterine insemination. Up to 80% of anovulatory infertility cases treated with this drug have been shown to be successfully addressed.

More recent research has examined clomiphene citrate as a possible treatment for hypogonadism, the loss of function in the gonads and subsequent decrease in testosterone levels, in men. This alternative use for the drug Mr. Palopoli played an integral role in developing, shows promise and may further extend the impact of his contributions to the collection of drugs used today.

The use of clomiphene citrate and other drugs that induce ovulation has the potential to over stimulate the release of eggs and cause an increase in the rate of multiple pregnancies. Because multiple pregnancies carry a greater risk for both the expectant mother and her children the use of Clomid has also been linked to the abortion debate and the ethics of pregnancy monitoring. The use of this and other fertility therapies remain an important topic in medical ethics.

The group of organic chemists he headed worked under the William S. Merrell Company and contributed to the development of several other agents including triparanol and tamoxifen (researched as possibilities for the treatment of high cholesterol and breast cancer respectively). Clomiphene citrate has now been used by millions of people worldwide.

References: 

Kousta, E. "Modern Use of Clomiphene Citrate in Induction of Ovulation." Human Reproduction Update 3.4 (1997): 359-65. Web.

Roberts, Sam. "Frank Palopoli, Who Aided Fertility With Clomid Drug, Dies at 94." The New York Times. The New York Times, 11 Aug. 2016. Web. 11 Aug. 2016.

Shabsigh, Ahmad, Young Kang, Ridwan Shabsign, Mark Gonzalez, Gary Liberson, Harry Fisch, and Erik Goluboff. "Clomiphene Citrate Effects on Testosterone/Estrogen Ratio in Male Hypogonadism." The Journal of Sexual Medicine 2.5 (2005): 716-21. Web.

"WHO Model Lists of Essential Medicines." World Health Organization. World Health Organization, 1 Apr. 2015. Web. 11 Aug. 2016.

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