by Robert Gaynes
Emerging Infectious Diseases, Vol. 23, No. 5, May 2017
After just over 75 years of penicillin’s clinical use, the world can see that its impact was immediate and profound. In 1928, a chance event in Alexander Fleming’s London laboratory changed the course of medicine. However, the purification and first clinical use of penicillin would take more than a decade. Unprecedented United States/Great Britain cooperation to produce penicillin was incredibly successful by 1943. This success overshadowed efforts to produce penicillin during World War II in Europe, particularly in the Netherlands. Information about these efforts, available only in the last 10–15 years, provides new insights into the story of the first antibiotic.