Fascinating story of the development of artemisinin, a antimalarial developed in China during the Vietnam era.
Artemisinin’s discovery is being talked about as a candidate for a Nobel Prize in Medicine. Millions of American taxpayer dollars are spent on it for Africa every year.
But few people realize that in one of the paradoxes of history, the drug was discovered thanks to Mao Zedong, who was acting to help the North Vietnamese in their jungle war against the Americans. Or that it languished for 30 years thanks to China’s isolation and the indifference of Western donors, health agencies and drug companies.
Medicynical Note: Perversely, the delay in development and distribution prevented it’s wide use, and perhaps the development of resistance. It remains an effective agent.