Five Accidental Discoveries In Medicine
Some of the most incredible medical discoveries were accidental discoveries in medicine . Not every invention in chemistry was created with exacting detail to what the laboratory was trying to create. We should be thankful, too. Some of these drugs have completely changed the world! Certainly, without them, many lives would have been lost. We should thank these chemists for being so wrong!
Many of you may have heard how this famous erectile dysfunction drug came about. This drug helped to make drug company, Pfizer, a household name. The drug is very helpful in helping men get an erection. In fact, that's the number one use of this drug, but that's not what they were trying for when they created the little blue pill. They were trying to up with something to treat hypertension and a heart disease known as ischaemic heart disease. It was supposed to relax the smooth muscle so that the right side of the heart would not have to work as hard. Well, it relaxed a smooth muscle all right. Mission successful, just not as high as they expected...
This drug was discovered by Sir Alexander Fleming in 1928. Because of its accidental discovery, which happened when he forgot to put the lid back on his petri dish of a fungus that he was working on. It turns out that this blue mold growing on the inside was able to kill staphylococcus. It took him a few years to figure out how to mass produce this drug, but he was able to get large quantities of it manufactured just in time for World War Two. It is estimated that 15% of the death casualties were prevented because if this infection-killing drug.
This drug is the most widely distributed anti-coagulent available today. It helps hundreds of thousands of people with irregular heart beats and heart conditions. As it turns out, this was not the original purpose for this drug, at all. It was originally designed as a rat and mice poison. In fact, you can still buy Warfarin as a rodent poison even though there are more effective methods to get rid of these pesky critters. I am sure people with bad hearts (myself included) don't mind.
This "Mother's Little Helper" (see Rolling Stones song as a reference) is known for its powerful muscle relaxation to clear away tension. Known as Benzodiazepine, the drug was initially designed as a chemical dye. However, the effects that we all know and love were soon discovered and Valium became commercially available in 1963 and turned Roche Laboratories into a drug producing industry giant. It was soon discovered that valium had some adverse effects associated with it, so the drug is now monitored very carefully.
This drug has helped save millions of lives. In the 20th century alone, more than 200 million people died of Smallpox. Before this time, numbers were not recorded, but it can be estimated the number was probably closer to a billion people or more. Entire Native American populations were wiped out because of this disease. The original way to "cure" this disease was rather disgusting. People would take scabs from people with smallpox, grind them up, and SNORT THEM! Gross, right? People would get sick with smallpox, but it would go away after about ten days - maybe. Some people just died of smallpox. It took a few decades, but finally someone realized that cowpox (a similar disease, but a milder version) had a way of keeping people from getting chickenpox and other diseases (like smallpox). This was then taken and injected into people - and it worked! Millions have been saved since this discovery...