The search to find medicines is as old as disease, which is to say as old as the human race. Through serendipity-by chewing, brewing, and snorting-some Neolithic souls discovered opium, alcohol, snakeroot, juniper, frankincense, and other helpful substances. Otzi the Iceman, the five-thousand-year-old hunter frozen in the Italian Alps, was found to have whipworms in his intestines and Bronze-age medicine, a worm-killing birch fungus, knotted to his leggings. Nowadays, Big Pharma conglomerates spend billions of dollars on state-of-the art laboratories staffed by PhDs to discover blockbuster drugs. Yet, despite our best efforts to engineer cures, luck, trial-and-error, risk, and ingenuity are still fundamental to medical discovery.
The Drug Hunters is a colorful, fact-filled narrative history of the search for new medicines from our Neolithic forebears to the professionals of today, and from quinine and aspirin to Viagra, Prozac, and Lipitor.
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