Distillations podcast

Deep Dives into Science Stories, Both Serious and Eccentric
February 22, 2008 Health & Medicine

Wonder Drugs

From antibiotics to chemotherapy, modern pharmaceuticals transformed the experience of illness in the 20th century.

Photo of Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw standing in front of the Biocon building.

From antibiotics to chemotherapy, modern pharmaceuticals transformed the experience of illness in the 20th century. Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, the founder, and chairman of Biocon, Ltd., joins us for a discussion of how the global business of pharmaceuticals is changing the culture of science in India. But while modern “wonder drugs” have saved countless lives, they have left a more complicated legacy well beyond the doctor’s office.

A commentary by David Caruso, director of the Institute’s Center for Oral History, explores the far-reaching effects of pharmaceuticals in social, economic, and political history.

Show Clock

00:00  Opening Credits
00:31  Introduction
01:14  Element of the Week: Sulfur
02:44  A Conversation with Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw
07:50  The Complicated Legacy of Modern Pharmaceuticals
10:44  Quote: Hans Zinsser
11:00  Closing Credits

Resources and References

On American drug regulation: The Food and Drug Administration

On the rise of the modern pharmaceutical industry: Jeremy A. Greene, Prescribing by Numbers: Drugs and the Definition of Disease (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2006).

Quote: Hans Zinsser, Rats, Lice, and History (1934), p. 13.


Special thanks to David Caruso for researching the show.

Our theme music is composed by Dave Kaufman. Additional music was provided from the Podsafe Music Network. The music for the intro to the Element of the Week is “China Town” by Maestross. At the end of the Element of the Week, the music is “Raindrop Rhapsody” by Option42. The music for the show ID is “Indian SciFi” by Joshua Dranoel. The music for the quotation is “Fading” by Al Stravinsky. The interview with Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw was produced by Jean Parker.

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