Antibiotics pp 57-75 | Cite as

The Industry

  • David M. ShlaesEmail author


The pharmaceutical industry has its origins in the folk remedies of ancient times. Our first historical records of this activity come from the ancient civilizations of Asia. Apothecaries were established during medieval times especially in Europe. Most of the modern pharmaceutical companies or their precursors were established in the nineteenth century. These small companies and even individual producers commercialized, to various levels of scale, products thought to benefit health in one way or another. Some of the nostrums and remedies peddled during the nineteenth century were outright poisons and it was these that ultimately led to the formation of the FDA. The regulatory requirements plus those of a demanding public led the industry to establish rigorous manufacturing practices. Later, the advance of science led to new vaccines and chemical products that were valuable for physicians, patients and for the emerging industry. These events led directly to industry’s turn towards scientific research as the basis for discovering new products in the early twentieth century.


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  1. Shlaes DM, Projan SJ, Edwards JE Jr (2004) Antibiotic discovery: State of the state. ASM News 70:275–281Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Anti-infectives Consulting, LLCStoningtonUSA

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