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Reviews Book

Penicillin Man: Alexander Fleming and the Antibiotic Revolution

BMJ 2004; 330 doi: (Published 30 December 2004) Cite this as: BMJ 2004;330:50
  1. Sabina Dosani, specialist registrar in child and adolescent psychiatry (
  1. Maudsley Hospital, London

In the preface to his tale of the discovery and development of penicillin, KevinBrown says, “This is the book I never intended to write.” The story is medical legend: Fleming, a modest man from St Mary's, returned from holiday to find some mould growing in one of his discarded staphylococcus culture plates. It made him stop and say, in classic understatement, “That's funny,” as, around the mould, staphylococci had been killed. He experimented and found a culture of the mould prevented staphylococcus growth. He called the active agent penicillin—an innovation that changed forever the treatment of bacterial infections such as pneumonia, syphilis, diphtheria, scarlet fever, and previously fatal wound and childbirth infections. It made Fleming asmuch a household name as Albert Einstein.

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Kevin Brown

Sutton Publishing,


pp 320

ISBN 0750931523

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Brown is trust archivist and curator of the Alexander …

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