The University of Iowa History of Medicine Society Dinner, April 26, 2013, 6:oopm-9:30pm
The media called it “the miracle of miracles,” a wonder drug that conquered diseases, saved millions of lives—among them Winston Churchill and Franklin Delano Roosevelt Jr.—and single-handedly launched the era of antibiotics. No, it was not penicillin. The miracle came a decade earlier in the form of sulfa, an off-the-shelf, unpatentable dye-making ingredient that fundamentally changed the practice of medicine.
Sulfa shifted the way new drugs are developed, approved, and sold; reshaped the relationship between physicians and the pharmaceutical industry; and spurred the creation of today’s drug laws. Today sulfa is almost forgotten. But Thomas Hager, author of The Demon Under the Microscope: From Battlefield Hospitals to Nazi Labs, One Doctor’s Heroic Search for the World’s First Miracle Drug brings it back to life, detailing the heyday of sulfa, its rise and fall, and the lessons it still teaches about the interplay between research, government, big business, and the art of healing.