Hitting Pay Dirt
More than a half-century ago, a then little-known pharmaceutical company named Chas. Pfizer & Co. Inc. was selling penicillin and other products through other companies. As penicillin became a success, drug companies began a race to search for other ways to fight diseases. Pfizer’s scientists broke new ground by discovering a new antibiotic in the soil, named Terramycin (derived from the Latin word terra, meaning earth). The company says its scientists researched 135,000 soil samples and conducted millions of tests before it “hit pay dirt” and found a substance that could successfully treat several types of dangerous bacteria, including dysentery and some strains of pneumonia. Pfizer announced the success of its new antibiotic in Science magazine on this date in 1950.
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