There have been many drugs developed throughout history that have been pivotal in assisting the survival of vast populations of humans, curing life-threatening conditions as well as advancing medical and scientific knowledge. To determine those that could
10. Ether – 1846
Before its first uses, Ether had been known for over 300 years; however, nobody had thought to use it as an anaesthetic. The development of ether has led the way to more modern and effective drugs. Before ether's discovery, people literarily used to have limbs amputated while being held down. The drug works by
9. HIV Protease inhibitors –
HIV infection was first documented in San Francisco and New York City in 1981. 4 years later it was identified as the causative agent of the acquired
8. Chemotherapy drugs –
Mustard gas was one of the first chemotherapy agents to treat cancer – the same gas used as a weapon in World War I. Mustard gas proved to kill cancer cells; however, it also significantly damaged healthy ones leading to
7. Chlorpromazine or
thorazine - 1951
Chlorpromazine is the first official antipsychotic drug and was discovered in 1951. Its discovery and use represented a turning point in psychiatry and one that led to what some term as the 'psychopharmacological revolution'. Not only was the drug a huge success, but just over 10 years later it had been used by around 50 million people. Chlorpromazine is also known to have paved the way for future generations of drugs used to treat anxiety and depression. The mechanics of the drug also enabled researchers to further understand its effect on neurotransmitters in the brain and how impulses passed from one neuron to the next. This discovery was to become pivotal in further advancing our understanding of mental illness.
6. Polio vaccine
Although vaccines are not technically drugs, they are a form of preventative medicine. Polio, a disease caused by a virus living in the throat and intestinal tract, was once one of the leading causes of disability in the world and was the source of widespread fear and panic. Since the introduction of the vaccine in 1955, the disease has been eradicated from almost every part of the world. However, since the virus is still in existence, all children are generally still given the vaccine before starting school.
5. Aspirin – 1899
4. Morphine – 1827
Morphine was first discovered by German pharmacist Friedrich Serturner; two decades later, Merck began its commercial marketisation in 1827. The drug soared in usage after the development of the hypodermic syringe in 1852. Although individuals may become addicted to the drug, it is nevertheless agreed that the benefits of the painkiller far outweigh the disadvantages of its use. Without this drug, literally millions of individuals with bodily injuries or more complicated medical conditions would have spent their lives in a vast amount of pain. The discovery and use of morphine also led way to the way to the discovery of a new generation of pain management drugs, some of which can even be purchased over the counter in pharmacies today.
3. Smallpox vaccine
Smallpox has been known as one of the worst threats humanity has ever faced. In today's
2. Insulin – 1922
1. Penicillin – 1942
Penicillin was first developed in
What do you think of our top 10 list? Are there any drugs that you think should get a mention?
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