Ten Drugs: How Plants, Powders, and Pills Have Shaped the History of Medicine

Every time we take a pill, a shot or vaccination, we rarely think about how it was created, it’s history or the motivation behind it. We take what we need, what we don’t need, and try to keep going about our lives. Thomas Hager breaks down the timeline throughout history on how we got to where we are today through his book, Ten Drugs, by focusing on ten drugs (with a number of honorable mentions) starting with the source of what you could argue started it all: opium.

Hager made it very clear in the beginning that the book was written for those who did not have a background in science or medicine. Because of this, the book wasn’t heavy on science or medical terms, was filled with interesting facts and was easy to connect to. Medication, with all the good and bad sides to it, is a fascinating subject and this book made a lot of things clearer. It also was humorous at times to learn how certain medications were discovered and how the anti-vaxxers movement started long before any of us alive today where even born.

My fascination with Big Pharma and how prescription medication became a big business had me intrigued to read this book, but now knowing the history and all of the pioneers that have done a lot of good, tried to do a lot of good, and that have done it for the profit made me understand why our society today is greatly influenced by this industry. By the end of the book, I felt the same way as the author. I am grateful and excited for the future of medicine, but personally, I would rather a lot of the focus be turned to eradicating and preventing diseases instead of life-long drug use in order to deal with the symptoms of whatever ailment a person may have and constantly trying to find the next big blockbuster drug.


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