Pharmaceutical industry – develops, produces, and markets drugs or pharmaceuticals licensed for use as medications. They are subject to a variety of laws and regulations regarding the patenting, testing and ensuring safety and efficacy and marketing of drugs. The word pharmaceutical comes from the Greek word pharmakeia.

  • Vaccination, 1796 – The British doctor Edward Jenner used the cowpox virus to protect against smallpox in 1796, but it wasn’t until Louis Pasteur developed a rabies vaccine in 1885 that medicine—and government—began to accept the idea that making someone sick could prevent further sickness.
  • Penicillin, 1928 – Accidentally discovered in 1928, though antibiotics were not widely distributed until after World War II, when they became the silver bullet for any number of formerly deadly diseases
  • The contraceptive pill, 1960 – Launched a social revolution
electron micrograph of Clostridium difficile bacteria

Antibiotics (antibacterial) – any chemotherapeutic agent or antimicrobial agent with activity against micro-organisms (bacteria, fungi, protozoa).

  • Use or misuse of antibiotics may result in the development of antibiotic resistance by the infecting organisms, similar to the development of pesticide resistance in insects.

What’s the problem?
Using antibiotics to cure bacterial infections has been understood since the early 1900s. Find an effective way to produce and distribute these drugs to the people who need them.

  • Ask – How might we create a process to manufacture antibiotics for distribution to sick people in order to destroy the bacterial infection that is making them sick?
  • Imagine – How can large batches of the antibiotics be made using a specialized manufacturing process is similar to other manufacturing processes? What are the limitations that must be considered? How can the product be made safe enough for sick people to ingest?
  • Plan, Create – What special precautions must be taken to ensure that there is no contamination that could cause harm to the people taking the medicine? How will the medicine be formulated and packaged for distribution?
  • Improve – As moden manufacturing techniques improve, how can these be applied to produced larger quantities of these medicines? How can these be safely distributed to people without electricity and refrigeration?