Penicillin: The Miracle Drug

Powerful Essays
Penicillin was one of the very first antibiotics. It is often referred to as "the miracle drug" because of its effectiveness against many harmful and deadly bacteria. With its discovery by Alexander Fleming in 1928, penicillin has proven to be a major contribution to the medical field. Penicillin is responsible for preventing the spreading of infectious illnesses, and for improving military medicine. It has revolutionized the study of medicine, saved countless of lives, and played a key role as a foundation for the development of other efficient antibiotics. The discovery of penicillin has greatly improved the way doctors were able to treat patients and gave way to a new era of antibiotics. History Prior to the discovery of penicillin, scientists had various ideas about bacteria, or rather the existence of it, and how disease should be treated. Doctors in the early 19th century had a hard time accepting that disease was caused by something that they could not see with their own eyes. Alexander Gordon recommended in 1795 to wash the surgeon's hands and person before operating on anyone. In 1843, Oliver Wendell Holmes, a Boston physician and Harvard anatomy professor wrote that an operator should wash their hands with chlorinated water and change their clothes. However, both of these recommendations were ignored by surgeons and patients continued to die of infections. Disease has been treated in various methods over many centuries. One of them was through vaccinations. For many years, it's been observed that dairy maids rarely got sick with smallpox. This intrigued Edward Jenner, an English country doctor in the 1770's, and he decided to investigate. He saw that milk maids didn't get smallpox. Instead, they caught cowpox, a r... ... middle of paper ... ... by a secretary on a cantaloupe in a local market. By the time the US had entered the war, 21 chemical companies were producing penicillin. When the war ended, these companies were making 650 billion units a month. Conclusion Fleming and Florey were knighted for their deeds in 1944. They, plus Chain were awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1945. Penicillin was, essentially, a gateway for modern medicine. It paved a road for future antibiotics and improved the chance of living for patients undergoing surgery. It also lowered the amount of infections in the operating room. The discovery and production of penicillin introduced many new methods for the production of medicine. It has controlled many bacteria, which without penicillin, would have been deadly to humans. With penicillin, the medical field had made great leaps which would have been impossible before.
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