TIMELINES: What major accidental medical discovery was introduced Feb. 14, 1929?

February 14, 2012 Updated: September 29, 2015

Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2012


Feb. 14, 1929, Sir Alexander Fleming introduces his miracle cure for bacterial infections to world known as penicillin. Fleming accidentally discovers the amazing properties of the Penicillium notatum mold after some falls into an open plate of bacteria. He observes that much of the bacteria closest to the mold is killed. Less than 20 years later, penicillin is being mass produced by Pfizer, the world’s largest research-based pharmaceutical company to date. It is promoted as a miracle drug used widely during the war.


In May last year, a group of nonprofit organizations filed a complaint against the FDA in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York for approving subtherapeutic uses of penicillin in animal feed. According to the complaint, “Today, approximately 80 percent of all antibiotics used in the United States are used in livestock.” In 1951, the FDA first approved the use of penicillin in animal feed. The complaint said in 2010, the FDA issued a draft guidance document concluding that based on available evidence the use of such drugs for production purposes is “not in the interest of protecting and promoting the public health.”