Wonder Drug Most people know that Penicillin is an extremely important drug, but few know just how important and influential it really is. Think about what life would be like today without it. What would be of contemporary medicine today? Would society as a whole succumb to these relentless infinitesimal organisms? What would have been of one’s ancestors if they too like so many before and after incurred a serious infection? This essay shall explore these questions and many like it. It will explain why penicillin is undoubtedly the best medication of the century, perhaps the best medication ever in existence.
Penicillin is produced by a bread mold, known as Penicillium. The discovery of Penicillin sometimes referred to as the “wonder drug” has been the most important drug to date. It has the ability to kill just about any bacterial infection and at the time of it’s creation there was no other drug or anything like it. To this date it has saved millions of children, women, men and animals. The wonder drug was originally discovered purely by accident by one Alexander Fleming, a Scottish Scientist in the year 1928.
Penicillin was later developed further by many different Scientists who were able to use it to create numerous versions of antibiotics to cure a vast range of illnesses. Antibiotics have been used for several years in treatment for a variety of skin disorders, sexually transmitted diseases, strep throat, and respiratory illnesses. Before Penicillin was discovered, if one were to have a serious infection, death was irrefutable. People often would die of the smallest wounds due to bacterial infections. Bacteria mutates quite often, creating antibiotic-resistant organisms. Which makes it become resistant to the drug.
Even with this said, there are still only a small amount of bacteria that Penicillin and it’s predecessors can not tackle and over come. One of Penicillin’s most advertised uses was for combating sexually transmitted diseases. There are websites that show old advertisements for penicillin on the side of mailboxes that shamelessly state, “Penicillin cures gonorrhea in four hours see your doctor today. ” Believe it or not during the late 1940’s researchers from the United States performed experimental studies in Guatemala. They had to because these types of studies were not allowed in the states.
So with the cooperation of the Guatemalan government, local prostitutes were used to pass on STD’s to prisoners, insane asylum patients, and Guatemalan soldiers to test the wonder drug’s effectiveness. Out of approximately thirteen hundred infected people, eighty three died. Although at that time it was not possible to establish if the experiments were the actual cause of death. Penicillin made a major difference in the amount of amputees and deaths during World War II. Because of the difficulties of manufacturing large amounts of Penicillin, availability was extremely limited.
Imagine what the death toll would have been if Penicillin had not been made readily available? In fact Penicillin was so scarce, that in it’s infancy, medical personnel would collect the urine from patients and filter the drug from the urine and reuse it. This is because Penicillin passes through the body at rapid rate, usually in about three to four hours. So some may wonder what makes Penicillin so significant, and what makes it the most important medical drug that has ever come into existence? A lot would argue perhaps Morphine or even the Smallpox vaccines are better examples for the most valuable drug.
And although one who would argue this may have some validity to one’s argument in an overall comparison there is really no comparison. Smallpox was a devastating disease that crippled the world, the survival rate was approximately seventy percent, which left the other thirty percent of it’s victims suffering immensely. One who contracted this disease would develop blisters and a high fever and often feel malaise with head and body aches and sometimes experience violent vomiting. The blisters were excruciatingly painful and there was little to ease the pain and suffering for its victims.
The fever was like none other, often so high that it would cause seizures and hallucinations. It was not until the year 1796 that the Smallpox vaccine was created by a scientist named Edward Jenner. Yet as significant of a vaccine this was it does not outweigh the benefits of Penicillin. At the time Smallpox was a great vaccine for the world. After the world wide eradication though, there was no longer a demand for it. The only people who receive the vaccine currently are military personnel and government contractors traveling overseas. Which in a way is better considering the risks of the vaccine.
Some of the risks include seizures, an actual mild case of smallpox, risk spreading it to others by being careless with one’s open wounds, plus it only provides ninety five percent immunity for up to five years. Penicillin has a decent amount of competing antibiotic drugs such as Clindamycin, Azithromycin, Doxycyclin. First and foremost these would not be in existence if it wasn’t for the creation of Penicillin to perpetuate the making of these. All of the competitor drugs are just various versions of Penicillin so as one can see there is very little argument that it’s predecessors are only what they are because of Penicillin’s creation.
The only difference between all of these is the functionality due to the amino group and the gram spectrum of the bacteria one heals. This basically means that each one of these targets a different part or kind of bacteria, but still uses the same principle of the original drug. This is why as stated above there is no argument when it comes to the importance of the creation of Penicillin. This essay has explored what Penicillin is, why it is so influential, and who has benefited from it.
It has been used in an array of situations from anything such as a sexually transmitted diseases to strep throat. There is no discrediting the fact that without Penicillin the world as one knows it would never have come into existence, this is why Penicillin is conclusively the most important medical drug ever in existence. Works Cited “Drugs. ” Questions and Answers for Consumers on Penicillin G Procaine. Food and Drug Administration, 23 May 2003. Web. 11 Mar. 2013. . “Smallpox Disease Overview. ” CDC Smallpox. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 30 Dec. 2004. Web. 11 Mar. 2013. .