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Blockbuster DrugsThe Rise and Fall of the Pharmaceutical Industry$
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Jie Jack Li

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199737680

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199737680.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 27 October 2021

Beginning of an Era The First Blockbuster Drug, Tagamet

Beginning of an Era The First Blockbuster Drug, Tagamet

(p.5) 2 Beginning of an Era The First Blockbuster Drug, Tagamet
Title Pages

Jie Jack Li

Oxford University Press

Tagamet emerged as the first blockbuster drug when its sales exceeded $1 billion in 1986, three years after its introduction to the market. An anti–peptic ulcer drug, Tagamet was discovered by James W. Black and his colleagues at Smith Kline & French’s (SK&F) British subsidiary in Welwyn Garden City. Before Tagamet, SK&F was a little-known U.S. drug firm in Philadelphia. After Tagamet, SK&F became one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world. The history of Tagamet is one of the most extraordinary in the annals of medicine. It is a saga of a drug that almost escaped detection because the research efforts that began in 1964 did not seem to produce results within the first 11 years! Smith Kline started as a humble drug store in Philadelphia in 1830. During the American Civil War, Smith Kline was founded as a small apothecary by two physicians, John K. Smith and John Gilbert on North Second Street. Not only was Philadelphia the birthplace of the United States of America, it was also the cradle of American pharmacy. Wyeth, McNeil, Rorer, and Warner-Lambert all trace their origins to small drug stores established there during the Civil War. In the 1880s, Mahlon N. Kline led the company into research and manufacturing of its own products. In 1891, it absorbed French, Richards & Co. founded by Harry B. French, creating Smith Kline & French. After its establishment, the company slowly expanded its inventory. By the 1920s, it had some 15,000 products ranging from aspirin to liniment. Their Eskay’s Albumenized Food was highly popular as a digestible food for infants and the disabled. Later, the company did very well with Eskay’s Tablets for Seasickness. Its specialty, Eskay’s Neurophosphates, a nerve tonic, soothed millions of people at home and abroad. In 1929, Smith Kline & French Laboratories was created to devote itself solely to research and development (R&D). During the Great Depression year of 1936, the company stepped up its efforts in R&D (in a recent contrast, many pharmaceutical companies stepped down their R&D investments during the last recession of 2008).

Keywords:   Acquisitions, Burimamide, Civil War, Decalin core structure, Formaldehyde, Gastric acid, Heartburn, Imidazole, James Black Foundation

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