Figure 7.10. Advertisement for penicillin in Life Magazine by an unknown artist, August 14, 1944 C.E. issue.

Alexander Fleming made his momentous discovery (inhibition of bacteria around colonies of the mold depicted in the upper right corner of this ad) during peacetime. However, war provided the necessary impetus and resources to mass-produce penicillin, the antibiotic derived from the bacteria-inhibiting mold. By the end of World War II, American pharmaceutical companies were producing 650 billion units of penicillin a month, the majority of which were being used to treat injured soldiers (19). Indiscriminate use of myriad subsequent antibiotics has led to the emergence of strains of bacteria able to resist the inhibitory effects of all currently available antibiotics. Administration of antibiotics as prophylaxis (i.e., given to prevent rather than to treat infections), an example of which is featured in this ad, is one of the many inappropriate uses of antibiotics causing the emergence of these highly resistant strains of bacteria.