Penicillin and Natural Selection

Penicillin came out at the very beginning of WWII. Prior to penicillin, gonorrhea was a BIG deal to cure, and I think soldiers were penalized with reduced pay until it was cured. Veterans told me that the penicillin was like MAGIC; one injection and the STD vanished. Of course as years went by penicillin-resistant strains developed. Antibiotics were over-prescribed in the 1950s. The owner of Schenley’s gin corp heard about the discovery of penicillin and rushed to buy the patent for U.S. production.

http://jem.rupress.org/cgi/reprint/100/1/117.pdf

Excerpt:

THE B I N D I N G OF PENICILLIN IN RELATIONTO ITS CYTOTOX C ACTION
I I I . Tm~ BINDING OF PENICILLIN BY MAMMALIAN CELLS IN TISSUE CULTURE (HxLA Am) L S ~ . m s )
Bx HARRY EAGLE, M.D.
(From the Section on Experimental Therapeutics, Laboratory of Infectious Diseases, National Microbiological Institute, National Institutes of Hee2tk,* Betkesda) (Received for publication, February 23, 1954)

One of the most striking properties of penicillin is its relative non-toxicity for mammals, as well as for mammalian cells in tissue culture (1).

End of excerpt

What impresses me is how for thousands of years homo sapien tribes, Neanderthals and other hominids remained hardy as a species, with no need for health care. Individuals may have suffered greatly but the species was hardy because of natural selection. Over the past several centuries, suffering has greatly diminished because of advances in medicine BUT the species as a whole becomes weaker and more dependent upon pharmaceuticals and surgical procedures.

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