Hormones of Life
Endocrinology, the Pharmaceutical Industry, and the Dream of a Remedy for Sterility, 1930–1970

Christer Nordlund

May 2011, 307 pp., illustrated, paperback, 978-0-88135-475-1, $34.95

Hormones of Life


“…considers the realm of reproductive endocrinology development and hormone therapies and reveals the process of research and development as a whole. Any serious medical library needs this history, reminding of how the modern pharmaceutical industry developed.”—California Bookwatch, October 2011

“…Christer Nordlund’s history of the development of gonadotropin hormones by the Swedish firm Leo deserves the highest praise…paints a sensitive, detailed picture of the symbiotic networks between drug companies, opinion leaders like Westman, and institutions of academic medicine…”—Isis, 103 : 1(2012)

Table of Contents




  • Premises and Questions
  • The New Physiology Before the Arrival of the New Biology
  • A Controversial Issue
  • Artifact Biography and Network Analysis
  • Consultation, Procuration, Standardization and Mediation
  • Sources and Scope
  • Outline


Hormones and Hormone Therapy: Historical Background

  • Internal Secretion and Organotherapy
  • From Organotherapy to Endocrinology
  • Sex Hormones in Focus
  • New Methods of Production and Quality Control
  • Gonadotropin or Gonadotropins?

Axel Westman, Endocrinology, and the Population Question

  • Endocrinology and “Modern” Gynecology
  • Infertility as Endocrinological Problem
  • Population Policy and Sterility
  • Endocrinology as Public Science
  • Lion of the North: Leo and the First Hormone Drugs

The Birth of a Business

  • Leo’s First Urine Collection Campaign
  • Leo’s Wandering Hormone Lab


Inventing Gonadex

  • The Second World War: A Turning Point for the Swedish Pharmaceutical Industry
  • Investing in a “Line of Hormones”
  • The Dream of a Pure Gonadotropin
  • The Development of “New Physex”
  • Registering Gonadex
  • Leos’ Second Urine Collection Campaign

Launching Gonadex

  • Leo’s Advertising Campaign
  • Selling Gonadex
  • A Conference for the Press
  • The Image of Hormonal Medicine as a Remedy for Sterility in the Press, Part I

The Reception of Gonadex

  • Reaction of the Medical Profession
  • Dr. Waldemar Gårdlund’s Complaint
  • Hormones and Dreams
  • Gonadex and its Prospective Users
  • Verdict of the National Pharmaceutical Laboratory
  • “We Have Made Fools of Ourselves, Not Only in Front of Swedish Pharmacists and Physicians But the Whole World”


New Gonadex

  • Shake-Up at the Women’s Clinic
  • Hormone Therapy for Better or Worse
  • At the Crossroads
  • Making “New Gonadex”
  • The Royal Caroline Hospital Takes Over the Hormone Laboratory

More Than Gonadex

  • Axel Westman’s Bovine Pituitary Implant
  • Carl Axel Gemzell’s Human Pituitary Extract
  • Gonadotropin from Urine—One More Time

In the Shadow of Homogonal

  • Post-Menopausal Gonadotropin Put to the Test
  • Leo’s Third Urine Collection Campaign
  • The Image of Hormonal Medicine as a Remedy for Sterility in the Press, Part II
  • “A Contract to Deliver hMG to the U.S.A. Has Been Signed”
  • Much Ado About Almost Nothing
  • Homogonal Launched in Sweden


  • Many Levels of Collaboration
  • The Identities of Gonadex
  • The New Physiology and the New Biology


Sources and Literature

name index

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