Drug Invention: Historical Back Ground

Therapeutic drugs have played a vital role in increasing average life expectancy in the India in the last century. < 100 years ago, we lacked many of the therapeutic drugs we now take for conceded for treating various disease easily like: cardiovascular, cancer, infections and etc. It’s difficult to comprehend, around that the middle of the 1900s, the life expectancy in India was just 32 years old, compared to today 67.14 years (it had doubled, by the turn of century). However, while many of the drugs in use in the last 50 years or more have been of synthetic or semi-synthetic origin, the formularies prior to that period were of natural source. In the 19th and earlier 19th centuries, natural product extracts, especially those derived from botanical species, furnished the main source of folk medicines. Nevertheless, in the latter part of the 19th century, biologically, active organic molecules commenced to be isolated comparatively in pure form for medicative purpose. As is the case in many scientific areas, some progresses arrived around as drug researchers were in pursuit of completely newer or different solutions, and most were trial-and-error procedures.

Drug research has facilitated transubstantiate medical care from a symptom abatement to one of evidence-based practices; below are a few, the advances in this area that have had substantial impingement on the patient lives around the globe.

Salicyclic acid was isolated in 1874 from willow bark; used as an analgesic anti-inflammatory drug. Several more potent painkillers, such as morphine and codeine, were isolated from the Papaver somniferum. Quinine, (the anti-malarial agent) was isolated from cinchona bark; the leaves of the digitalis were purified for use against cardiac diseases. There are numerous other instances:

Even though, synthesis of the first synthetic pharmaceutical drug, aspirin, came about in the latter half of the 19th century, it was not before the time, early 1900s that the recognition of aspirin also known as acetylsalicylic acid (abbreviated ASA) as a universal pain reliever was realized and this breakthrough call forth the era of therapeutic agents.


In 1928 Dr. Alexander Fleming, (a bacteriologist), discovered that a mold has germinated in a petri dish. Dr. Alexander Fleming found that the bacteria covered the whole dish with the exclusion of where the mold was. Then he understood that the mold shown an anti-bacterial action, where Dr. Alexander Fleming named it penicillin, it was one of the most bounteous discoveries in the healthcare industry.’ However, he didn’t do anything with his breakthrough. It wasn’t until 1940 that the scientists (Howard Florey and Ernest Chain) from Oxford University started out to formulate penicillin as a therapeutic agent. Penicillin, viewed, one of the mightiest antibiotics available; as soon as it reached to the market it was protecting many lives. By the mid-1940’s, several drug players were producing purged penicillin.


Before the evolution of insulin (the hormone produced by a healthy pancreas), diabetes mellitus was a venerated illness and diagnosis went with a cautionary of almost certain death. The 1920’s discovery of the insulin hormone enabled diabetes martyrs to live relatively normal lives by balancing blood sugar levels. Prof. John Macleod and Dr. Frederick Banting (University of Toronto physician) were awarded a Nobel Peace Prize for their discovery and Dr. Frederick Banting was also awarded a knighthood. Working with the university and Dr. Frederick Banting, Lilly, (a U.S. Pharmaceutical player) developed methods to extract, collect purge and finally produce insulin; in 1923 insulin was became commercially available.

Sulfur Drugs:

In 1933, Gerhard Domagk. (A scientist) who worked with I.G. Farben, (a large German chemical firm), invented that a sulfur-containing a dye called (Prontosil) was killed bacteria in mice. Soon this discovery, the sulfur content was used to efficaciously halt a blood stream (staphylococcal infection) in a young child. Then after, the sulfur drugs were preferred to use in ceasing the growth of bacteria in the body.


Chemotherapy was arisen by a German scientist, Paul Ehrlich, in the early 1990’s. Following the development of quinine, (a drug substance used to treat malaria), Paul Ehrlich tried to come up with synthetic drugs that would destroy offending cells without causing harm to other cells.

This procedure ironically had its origins in the medical profession that had perfectly nothing to do with saving lives, the first, though mostly abortive use of chemotherapy for treating cancer was mustard gas (discovered to suppress blood production) the same gas utilized as a weapon all the way through first world war; while mustard gas killed cancer cells it also killed healthy cells and put up minimal life extension; The use of cortisone (a corticosteroid hormone: trade name- Cortone Acetate – normally produced by the adrenal cortex) to treat leukemia had similar kind of results. Methotrexate (toxic antimetabolite that limits cellular reproduction by acting as an antagonist to folic acid), an early and more successful anti-cancer agent was produced by Lederic Laboratories in 1948, and Burroughs Wellcome Co. investigators (George Hitchings and Gertrude Elion) complied in the early 1950s with anti-metabolites for leukemia.

These cancer agents were different as they were specifically invented to interfere with DNA production in cells and therefore disrupt the cell growth.


A product of global pharmaceutical company Pfizer -is the best marketing cholesterol-lowering drug, in the world.

Oral Contraceptive Pills:

A massively democratic drug discovery, according to few industry reports estimated that over 100 million women take up oral contraceptives worldwide.


A key medical advance for surgical operations, when a number of doctors discovered it was possible to create a reversible loss of sensation surgeons were able to operate without patients feeling any pain.

This allowed for more intricate procedures to take place and saved lives as previous to the discovery, many people chose death over the pain of surgery.

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