Pharmaceutical Connect > Brief History of the Industry

History of the pharmaceutical industry in the United States

Between 1818 and 1822, more than a half dozen enduring fine chemical manufacturers were founded in the Philadelphia area. This was the beginning of the modern pharmaceutical industry as we know it. This movement showed the shift from the manufacturing of medicines in the laboratories of pharmacies to the construction of manufacturing plants for this purpose. During this time, doctors and pharmacists compounded and administered medicines to patients and drug reactions were observed. Robert Shoemaker is thought to be the first large-scale manufacturer in Philadelphia during the period between 1818 and 1840, with the production of glycerin.

As the industry evolved, it became more important to regulate the production of pharmaceuticals. In 1902, Congress passed an act to control the production and sale of biologicals, and to regulate the sale of viruses, toxins, serums, and analogous products. Four years later, in 1906, the Pure Food and Drugs Act was passed to standardize the state regulations. The purpose of the Food and Drugs Act was to provide the Department of Agriculture with the legal power to enforce reasonable standards of purity for processed foods.

The Food and Drug Act was also important in that it added the scientific mission of the Division of Chemistry, which eventually evolved into the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). FDA is a scientific, regulatory, and public health agency that oversees most food products, human and animal drugs, therapeutic agents of biological origin, medical devices, radiation-emitting products for consumer, medical, and occupational use, cosmetics, and animal feed.



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