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By David E. Newton

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That process typically takes many years (often more than 10) and costs many millions of dollars. A drug company that wanted to market a new plant product as a drug for use against asthma, for example, would have to go through just such a procedure to obtain permission from the FDA to market the drug. The kind of natural products listed in the table above, however, are not defined in the United States today as drugs but as dietary supplements, nutritional supplements, natural foods, or some similar nondrug product.

Those accomplishments have formed the basis of a whole new phase of the pharmaceutical industry in which natural products and their derivatives provide an extensive source of new drugs. 28 CHEMISTRY OF DRUGS Microorganisms as the Source of Drugs Plants remained essentially the sole source of natural product drugs until well into the 20th century. Then in 1928 the discovery of penicillin by the Scottish bacteriologist Sir Alexander Fleming (1881–1955) opened an entirely new area of research in the field of Chemical formulas for artemisinine and its derivatives Natural Products 29 anti-infective drugs.

S. D. (1939) degrees in agricultural biochemistry, all from Rutgers University. S. Department of Agriculture at Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania. While at ERRL, Wall was in charge of NCI’s first large-scale search for plants that might be used for the synthesis of corti- Natural Products 37 drug waned until the mid-1980s. Then, however, efforts to make synthetic analogs of the natural product resulted in compounds that were at least as effective as the natural product itself—and safer. By 1985, the FDA had approved two compounds derived from camptothecin, Hycamtin® and Camptostar®, for use against ovarian and colon cancer.

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