Prescription Reflection: World’s 10 Most Important Drugs

most important drugs in the world

If someone asked you to name the ten most important medicines ever, what would you say? Would you choose smallpox vaccine that’s saved countless lives since it was developed in the 19th century? How about aspirin, one of the most popular painkillers in the world? WebMD asked a panel of experts to come up with what they considered to be the most important medicines in the world, and below is the list they compiled (click the image to view at a larger size).

most important drugs

Some drugs were easy to name – things like penicillin and insulin drastically changed the world – but others required more debate. John Swann, PhD, an FDA historian, was on the panel making the list. He says that some decisions were more difficult than others because, although the drug isn’t well-known today, it may have changed the way we research and develop new medicines. Overall, the top ten list is subject to change – and it most definitely will. Drugs are constantly being developed to tackle new and more complex health problems, so we expect that WebMD’s list will continue to evolve along with modern pharmaceuticals.

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See more in Medical Marvels or under Science. December, 2009.