Su Keles | Posted on February 17, 2023

Top drug discoveries that changed our lives for the better


From Insulin to birth control pills, drug discoveries have saved millions of lives and improved the quality of life for many people around the globe. Scientists and researchers have made some of the most impactful discoveries that have changed the world for the better. While it is easy to take some old discoveries for granted, it seems unthinkable now due to the discovery and the mass production of antibiotics. 

But, what makes a drug discovery impactful? Well, it needs to treat a large number of people with a common health problem. They are also considered a starting drug for further discoveries, leading to more specific research and innovation. 

Medicine discoveries consist of some of the most impactful inventions in the world. But as impactful as it is, it also requires a lot of effort and time; it is a complex process involving much research and development, but the results can be life-changing. The discovery of drugs had a profound impact on the world, with many of them being instrumental in curing diseases and improving the quality of life. 

This article will look at some of the best medical discoveries that have greatly impacted humanity. We will discuss their importance, how they were developed, and their potential to improve health outcomes in our world today.

Insulin (1921)

Insulin is a hormone that plays a key role in regulating glucose levels in the body. It was first discovered by Canadian scientists Frederick Banting and Charles Best in 1921, and it has since become an essential treatment for people with diabetes.

Insulin helps to regulate the amount of glucose that enters into cells from the bloodstream, which is necessary for normal metabolism. Without insulin, people with diabetes would be unable to control their blood sugar levels. They would be at risk of developing serious medical complications such as heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, blindness, and even death.

Today, insulin is used by millions of people around the world to manage their diabetes and live healthy lives. It is one of the most important discoveries in medical history and has saved countless lives since its discovery more than 100 years ago.


Polio vaccine (1955)

The Polio vaccine is one of history’s most important medical discoveries. It has saved millions of lives worldwide and prevented countless cases of disability. The discovery and introduction of the polio vaccine have had a massive impact on global health and helped to eradicate polio from many countries.

The history of the polio vaccine dates back to the 1950s when Jonas Salk developed an injectable form of the vaccine. Since then, several other forms have been developed, including oral and combination vaccines that protect against multiple diseases. The impact of these vaccines has been immense, reducing polio cases by 99%.

Today, the importance of the polio vaccine remains as strong as ever. It is estimated that over 2 billion children have been vaccinated with it since its introduction, helping to reduce cases around the world.

Aspirin (1899)

Aspirin is one of the most widely used drugs in the world. It has been used since ancient times to treat pain and inflammation, but its true potential was discovered in 1899 when it was found to be effective against heart attacks and strokes. Felix Hoffmann, a pharmacist discovered it at Bayer who used the drug to alleviate his father’s rheumatism. So Bayer held its patent for a long time. Since then, its use has become increasingly common as a preventative measure against cardiovascular diseases. 

Aspirin also plays a role in cancer prevention and treatment, as well as treating headaches, arthritis, and other conditions. Its discovery is considered one of the most incredible medical breakthroughs of all time, and its impact on human health cannot be overstated.

Birth control pills (1950)

 The birth control pill is one of the most important discoveries in human history, as it has enabled people to plan their families and decide when and how many children they want to have. It has had a huge impact on society, allowing women to take control over their reproductive health and giving them more freedom in terms of career choices.

The history of the birth control pill dates back to the 1950s when scientists first developed it to control fertility. Biologist Gregory Pincus  developped the birth control pill. But, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) approved the first oral contraceptive in 1960. Since then, it has been used by millions of women worldwide who want to prevent pregnancy or plan when they want to start a family. The pill has also been used for other medical purposes, such as treating endometriosis and acne.

Today, the birth control pill continues to be an essential part of family planning and reproductive health care, providing women with more freedom than ever before.

Penicilin (1928)

Penicillin is one of the most important discoveries in the history of medicine. It has saved millions of lives and changed how we treat bacterial infections.

Penicillin was discovered in 1928 by Alexander Fleming, who noticed that a mold had killed some bacteria on a petri dish he had left open overnight. He then developed a method for extracting it from the mold and turning it into an effective antibiotic pill.

Since then, penicillin has been used to treat many bacterial infections, from strep throat to meningitis. Its discovery has also led to developing of other antibiotics, such as amoxicillin and cephalosporins, used to treat more serious infections. Today, penicillin is still widely used and is considered one of the most important medical advances in history. To give a better sense of its impact, 75% of people today would not be alive because their ancestors would have died from some infection.  . 


 Morphine (1804)

Morphine is a significant drug in the history of medicine. It has been used for centuries to treat pain and continues to play a vital role in modern medicine. Morphine was first discovered by Freidrich Wilhelm Adam Serturner in 1804, and since then, it has been used to treat various ailments, from acute to chronic pain. 

The discovery of morphine revolutionized how doctors treated pain, allowing them to provide relief without causing addiction or other serious side effects. The discovery of morphine also spurred a new generation of pain reliever medicine. Today, morphine is still widely used for its analgesic properties and is often prescribed for patients suffering from severe or chronic pain.

We don’t know when the next breakthrough will happen, but we can easily say that thousands of researchers and professionals are working on it daily. We’re grateful to these discoveries for making our lives longer and easier to live. So, this was our list of the top drug discoveries that changed the world. What drugs would you have added to this list? 

Thank you for reading!


What criteria make a drug discovery impactful?


An impactful drug discovery treats a large number of people suffering from a common health problem. It often serves as a starting point for further research and development, leading to new and more effective treatments. The discovery should have a profound effect on improving the quality of life or curing diseases.

What are some examples of impactful drug discoveries?



  • Year of Discovery: 1921
  • Impact: Crucial for managing diabetes, saving countless lives.

Polio Vaccine

  • Year of Discovery: 1955
  • Impact: Helped eradicate polio from many countries and prevented numerous cases of disability.


  • Year of Discovery: 1899
  • Impact: Effective against a variety of conditions including heart attacks, strokes, and inflammation.

Birth Control Pills

  • Year of Discovery: 1950
  • Impact: Revolutionized family planning and empowered women with reproductive choices.


  • Year of Discovery: 1928
  • Impact: Revolutionized the treatment of bacterial infections and laid the foundation for antibiotics.


  • Year of Discovery: 1804
  • Impact: Provides effective pain relief for acute and chronic conditions.

How is Insulin used today?


Insulin is used by millions worldwide to manage diabetes. It is crucial for regulating blood sugar levels and thus prevents severe medical complications like heart disease, stroke, and kidney failure.

What is the impact of the Polio vaccine?


Since its introduction, over 2 billion children have been vaccinated with the Polio vaccine, helping to reduce polio cases by 99% worldwide.

How did aspirin gain popularity?


Discovered by Felix Hoffmann at Bayer in 1899, it was initially used to treat his father's rheumatism. Its uses have since expanded to include prevention against cardiovascular diseases.

How has Penicillin influenced other drugs?


Penicillin has been a catalyst for the development of other antibiotics like amoxicillin and cephalosporins, which are used to treat more serious infections.

Who discovered Morphine?


Morphine was discovered by Freidrich Wilhelm Adam Serturner in 1804.

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