Milestones in pharmaceutical development

Since ancient times, herbs and plant extracts have been used as a proven means of alleviating pain or healing certain diseases. But only in the last 120 years have pharmaceutical researchers been able to develop ever more effective medicines specifically based on individual active ingredients. Within a short space of time, researchers have been able to find cures for several major epidemics. Yet this is only part of the success story of pharmaceutical research in the 20th century. Today, the chance of surviving a heart attack is five times greater than in 1960. Yet the challenge of developing medicines remains huge: about 20,000 currently known diseases still cannot be appropriately treated.

All information refers to the year in which the drug was first launched on the international market or received approval for its given application. Innovations are included from about 1850 onwards.

21st century

2020s

Piktogramm Coronavirus

2020

First vaccines against covid-19, at the same time the fastest-developed vaccines ever with less than one year of development time

2020

Causally effective drug for cystic fibrosis, potentially applicable to about 60% of patients (rather than a small percentage)

Piktogramm Coronavirus

2020

First drug against the viral disease hepatitis D

Piktogramm Durchstechflasche

2019

First vaccine against Ebola

Piktogramm Tumor

2019

First cancer drug whose use is not limited to specific tumors but is dependent on the presence of a specific gene mutation (so-called "tumor-agnostic cancer drug")

20th century
19th century