Wednesday, November 21, 2012

"Dawson Does a Banting" : the impolite Canadian doctors who fought , and I do mean FOUGHT, to bring us life-saving penicillin and insulin

Canadians have a reputation for being excessive polite and for not being aggressive , pushing, forward, loud and emotional.

And the other hand.

There is the old joke about "going to a peaceful American boxing match and suddenly a Canadian hockey game broke out...."

Still it is quite well known that Banting never really discovered or invented anything new with insulin.

Instead, he "merely" pushed, yelled and screamed until the various threads of insulin research gathered, sometimes years before, by many better but less emotionally involved researchers the world over quickly became something you could inject into dying diabetic patients.

And he kept on kicking and screaming to ensure insulin was not just something only the rich and dying could afford.

He got not just the Nobel Prize, but almost all the permanent fame for insulin, over a half dozen more scientifically useful members of his own team, (let alone all the other worthy insulin scientists) because of his yelling and screaming , not because of his scientific skills.

Sometimes even the normally obtuse Nobel Committee knew enough to credit yelling and screaming over "science"  and this was one of those times.

Alexander Fleming  nearly killed penicillin in the first 14 years of its existence by telling all interested researchers that penicillin would never work as a life-saving injectable medication and might just work as a topical antiseptic cream, but only if it was synthesized by the chemists.

Florey did think that penicillin might save lives, but he was never one for any sort of clinical work , with real life human patients --- he preferred to polish penicillin research forever and ever, and felt real life saving with penicillin would only happen when it had been synthesized by the chemists.

Dawson was Life-Saving Penicillin's first and best champion 

Dawson loved Penicillin just as she was and five weeks after first meeting her, was trying to save lives with injected natural impure penicillin and kept doing so despite his own terminal disease , until his death five years later.

On six occasions over three years, he kick started the world's mass production of natural penicillin  by acting impolitely and unprofessionally (at least in the eyes of the ultra dignified medical establishment of the 1940s).

Dawson even 'stole' government issue penicillin and encouraged corporation leaders to bend  the rules, to ensure that cheap, abundant life-saving penicillin would be readily available during WWII , not finally made available for all, at high prices, sometime during the end of the Korean War ....

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