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In its early years, international pharmaceutical company Lundbeck was solely a trading company, supplying Danish people with everything from synthetic sugar to silver paper. Hans Lundbeck had traded butter since returning home to Denmark in 1912 after a long stay abroad, but then decided that he wanted his business to include other products as well.
During the early years, Lundbeck’s agents used everything from machinery for the manufacture of biscuits, confectionery, and saccharin, to cinematic and photographic equipment, photographic paper, and aluminum foil.
Eduard Goldschmidt was recruited in 1924, beginning Lundbeck’s ascent in the pharmaceutical industry. He brought several agencies for medicines into the company with him. Among the first preparations Lundbeck introduced to the Danish market were the suppository Anusol® for hemorrhoids, the painkiller Gelonida®, the laxative Agarol®, and Inotyol® for the treatment of small cuts and minor burns.
Goldschmidt was forced to withdraw from the company a short time later because of the occupying Germans' rampant anti-Semitism. Interestingly, the Internet and the wayback machine appear to have been scrubbed of all references to Goldschmidt.
Could this be the point that Lundbeck began the trip down eugenics lane?
In March of 2012, the Lundbeck Foundation donated $22 million to Danish psychiatric research, funding the Lundbeck’s Foundation’s Initiative for Integrated Psychiatric Research. The stated purpose of this research is to “identify biological disease mechanisms" and "provide the basis for better treatment and prevention.” Five mental disorders will be investigated: schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression, autism, and ADHD.
Searching for the biological cause of mental illness has been ongoing since Darwin published his book "On the Origin of Species." To date, no biological markers or genes have been found. This has not deterred the pharmaceutical industry from marketing the research as scientific evidence to prove madness is biological and psychiatry has the cure while at the same time making millions of dollars. Lundbeck just happens to be the leader, having had their start in 1958 with the first antipsychotic drug Truxal used in the treatment of schizophrenia.
So, what does this have to do with eugenics?
While it is not surprising that a company whose profits come from psychiatric drugs would finance research in that area, it is who will be doing the research that warrants further investigation. Thomas Werge, a prominent Danish biochemist, published a research paper in 2008 announcing that the genes for schizophrenia had been discovered and that there was a future possibility of being able to identify and abort schizophrenic fetuses.
That statement provoked national debates on the ethics of aborting potentially mentally ill babies, debates that continue to this day. What was consistent in the many debates that followed was the uncontested assumption that it is possible to identify the schizophrenia gene in a fetus. Werge continued to fuel the debate by saying, “This can be the beginning of being able to reduce the number of people who have to suffer mental illness."
When asked about his statements on potential abortion, Werge claimed he was misquoted by the media and that his research was at times misunderstood, prompting people to associate him with the Nazi party.
Apparently, he and his associates could not stand the heat and had to get out of the kitchen. His original statement of reducing the population of the the mentally ill through abortion can no longer be found on the website of Mental Health Services of the Capital Region of Denmark but to their chagrin, it can still be found through the wayback machine.
Yesterday, we had Hitler’s “Final Solution,” and today, we have Werge’s search for the biological origins of madness. Alternatively, to quote Francis Galton, the father of the eugenics movement, “The question was then forced upon me: Could not the race of men be similarly improved? Could not the undesirables be got rid of and the desirables multiplied?”
I cannot say for sure that Lundbeck is involved in eugenics. However, the breadcrumb trail sure seems to lead to its doorstep.