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From the Columbia Encyclopedia:

A drug used to alleviate some of the symptoms of Parkinsonism, particularly trembling, rigidity, and slow movements; the drug is also called levodopa. Parkinsonism results when the concentration of dopamine in the brain is depleted (see catecholamine). Medical administration of dopamine itself is ineffective since that chemical apparently does not enter the brain from the blood. A metabolic precursor of dopamine, l-dopa does enter the brain via the bloodstream and is probably converted into dopamine there. Because there are many brain disorders with similar symptoms, many patients with Parkinsonism do not show any improvement when treated with the drug. Furthermore, virtually all patients on l-dopa experience side effects including nausea, loss of appetite, cardiac irregularities, and psychological changes.

The drug is most famous for its' use by Oliver Sacks in 1969 who used the drug to treat people with sleeping sickness that hadn't been able to initiate movement for some 50 years. The drug had a remarkable effect of waking the patients up, when nothing else had been successful. The results of his studies were captured in the 1973 book Awakenings, which was turned into a documentary in 1974, a one-act play by Harold Pinter ("A Kind of Alaska") in 1982, and an award-nominated movie in 1989.

Steve Albini also wrote a song named after the drug about one of the subjects of the awakenings studies, and the psychological side effects therein. It was performed by his old band Big Black, and can be found on the 1987 album Songs about Fucking and on the 1993 live release Pig Pile. Information from the liner notes of both:

Daisy (a victim of sleeping sickness) went to sleep at 15 and woke up many years later. she, being perfectly sensible, decided she ought to die, since she had literally slept away her entire productive life. the medical profession had, in her absence, decided that all life must be preserved, regardless of worth to its owner, and prevented her from performing the only noble act she was capable of.

That Oliver Sacks has been portrayed by Robin Williams in a saccharine mass-market tearjerker movie in no way invalidates his life's work: documenting the entertaining behavior of people with severe brain anomalies.

The lyrics to the song:

I got a sickness sweet as a love note
I got a headache like a pillow
Called me Daisy
called me Daisy
called me Daisy, that one
Called me Daisy
I am a sweetheart
I am a prom queen
I am some puppies
Not Daisy
Not Daisy
Are we here now?
I am a horror
This is an old one
Not Daisy
L Dopa fixed me, all right

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