We all went to the same school and just as we were leaving, a fellow called Christopher Nolan arrived. He had been deprived of oxygen for two hours when he was born, so he was paraplegic. But his mother believed he could understand what was going on and used to teach him at home. Eventually, they discovered a drug that allowed him to move one muscle in his neck. So they attached this unicorn device to his forehead and he learned to type. And out of him came all these poems that he'd been storing up in his head. Then he put out a collection called Dam-Burst of Dreams, which won a load of awards and he went off to university and became a genius. All because of a mother's love and a medical breakthrough.
The song shares a similar chord progression with their 1987 song "With or Without You", and features a rare background vocal appearance by U2's drummer Larry Mullen, Jr. Indeed, it is one of only two U2 songs to feature three members of U2 on vocals - Bono, The Edge, and Mullen. The only other is "Numb" from the Zooropa album.
"Miracle Drug" was played live at every show of the first and second legs of the Vertigo Tour, with Bono using the song (and the story of Nolan) as a means of expressing his appreciation for doctors, nurses, and others in the medical field. Towards the end of the third leg of the tour, it was dropped and did not reappear on any of the fourth or fifth leg shows. Its last performance on the Vertigo Tour was November 28, 2005 in Montreal.