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9 Drug Approvals That Changed the Future of Medicine


When people think of wonder drugs they think back to Alexander Fleming’s penicillin, the world’s first antibiotic. They may also think of aspirin, used as a painkiller and also as an anti-clotting agent for patients with a high risk of stroke or heart failure.

But there are thousands of drugs that have changed the course of history and saved lives or enhanced the quality of life for millions of people around the world.

Here are some of the biggest approvals in the last 10 years:

Spinraza (Nusinersen)
A new drug approved by the FDA in December 2016, Spinraza is used for children and adults with spinal muscular atrophy (SMA). Clinical trials of the drug found that infants taking Spinraza showed significant development improvements with 40 percent reaching milestones that babies with type 1 SMA typically do not reach, such as rolling, crawling, sitting up and standing. Find out more about Spinraza here.

MORE: Spinraza clinical trial confirms treatment benefits in all SMA types.

Prozac (Fluoxetine)
Used for treating depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety, panic attacks and bulimia, Prozac is the world’s most widely prescribed antidepressant. Approved by the FDA in December 1987, Prozac works by controlling the serotonin levels in the brain. Source: World History Project

MORE: Five areas that need to be carefully cared for when you have SMA.

Zidovudine (AZT)
Zidovudine (also known as AZT) is a drug used for HIV and AIDS patients and was approved by the FDA in 1987. It reduces the amount of HIV in a patient’s body. It is often used in conjunction with lamivudine and abacavir to help stop or slow the production of HIV, allowing the patient’s immune system to build and making them less susceptible to potentially deadly infections. (Source:

MORE: First adult patient in Arizona is treated with Spinraza.


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