Station: [16] Rational Pharmacotherapy and Pharmaceutical Research

Let's move on to more recent history, and to pharmaceutical research. 

The most recent development of note was the emergence of the pharmaceutical industry, and of systematic pharmaceutical research. Here, too, pharmacists often helped developments along. In 19th century Darmstadt, for example, the pharmacist Emanuel Merck specialised in isolating and distributing plant ingredients, specifically the alkaloids. Today, both Merck in Darmstadt and Merck & Co in the United States are major players in the pharmaceutical industry. Both companies have their roots in the Engel Apotheke in Darmstadt. 

Merck is just one example. A similar story applies to the wound care and cosmetics company Beiersdorf AG with its key products, Hansaplast and Nivea. Then there’s Schering AG, a major pharmaceutical corporation based in Berlin that was taken over by Bayer in 2006. These large global corporations were originally set up by pharmacist families. One of the best-known remedies made by Bayer is probably Aspirin.

Today, it’s hard to imagine how terribly small the number of effective medicines was two hundred years ago. The 19th, and especially the 20th century brought the swift expansion and development of our current treasure trove of medicines. In addition to improved hygiene, it has been mainly vaccines, antibiotics and new medicinal substances that have been the drivers of a rapid increase in life expectancy while also enabling the effective treatment of many diseases.

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