Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Eight fun facts about pharmaceuticals

1. Cannabis hemp was actually used as currency from 1631 all the way up until the early 1800s. Why? Blame the British: The English navy became solely dependent on cannabis hemp fibers for the production of ropes and sails for its fleet (hence, the term “canvas”). So central did cannabis become to the economy that early colonial law actually mandated that farmers grow the crop. 

2. Bayer, the pharmaceutical giant responsible for Aspirin, once marketed heroin as a non-addictive morphine substitute and cough suppressant.

3. In 2008, research found that pharmaceutical companies spent twice as much money on advertisement than they did on research. What's more, they typically would buy research from leading universities instead of doing it themselves.

4. Between the years of 1980 and 2010, the price of prescription drugs increased by 300%.

5. Cocaine was the first local anesthetic, having been used as such from 1884 and onwards. 

6. History records Robert Shoemaker, producer of glycerin, as the first large-scale manufacturer in the period from 1818 to 1840. Medicines were previously manufactured in the laboratories of pharmacies where doctors and pharmacists compounded and administered drugs to patients and observed drug reactions. 

7. Every year since 1982, the pharmaceutical industry has been the most profitable. In fact, it has averaged 3 times the return on revenue more than the average return from any other industry represented in the global Fortune 500.

8. Funding for malaria research is 80 times lower than for HIV/AIDS and 20 times lower than for asthma – and malaria gets the most research funding of all tropical diseases. Malaria kills one child every 30 seconds. Only 10% of global health research (private and public combined) is devoted to diseases that account for 90% of the world’s disease burden.

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