Interest in pharmaceuticals, especially their benefits to human health and toxicology has a long history. Although the earliest activities were oriented toward benefits to health, it is also well known that there was substantial interest in the toxicology aspects of this field. As early as Roman times there was considerable political interest in design of certain potions as effective poisons for shortening life. Subsequent to this early history, legitimate pharmaceutical activities focused on preservation, remediation, and extension of life. These activities emerged in Europe as early as the twelfth century. One of the first pharmacies established in 1241 is still operational in Trier, Germany.
The pharmaceutical industry in the United States is much younger and its origins can be traced to the Philadelphia area. More than a half dozen fine chemical manufacturers founded as early as 1822 are still in existence today. This activity launched the beginning of the modern pharmaceutical industry as we know it. This movement manifested a shift from manufacturing of medicines in pharmacy laboratories to formal construction of manufacturing plants for this purpose. Throughout this period, drug reactions and benefits were documented as doctors and pharmacists compounded and administered medicines to patients.
Concurrent with the growth of this industry was an explosive growth and expansion of traditional small molecule chemistry. This parallel development of traditional chemistry led to the introduction of many small molecule inorganic/ organic therapies. Some of these therapies were beneficial while others were harmful to society and the industry. These early pharmaceutical candidates were both synthetic and natural in origin. They became the scientific platform and basis for the commercial activity of essentially all major pharmaceutical companies worldwide.