Invention Essay

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It has been called the pill that transformed America, the single most important invention of the 20th century. The invention being referred to is the birth control pill. Before the actual pill, there had been various forms of birth control, but none of them seemed to be very effective or simple to perform. One of the oldest references to birth control was the “withdrawal” method referenced in the Bible. In the 1870’s, a wide assortment of birth control devices were available in America -- such as condoms, sponges, douching syringes, diaphragms and cervical caps -- from catalogs, pharmacists, dry-goods stores and even rubber vendors. Then, along comes Margaret Sanger, a New York nurse who dreams about a “magic pill” as easy to take as an aspirin that could be used for contraceptive purposes. Her idea, and the fact that it was brought to fruition, would change the American woman’s life forever. Margaret Sanger had envisioned a birth control pill since she opened her first clinic in 1916. However, she was not able to fund the project for years. In 1951, Sanger teamed with Katherine McCormick to provide enough funding to finally accomplish her dream. They contacted Gregory Pincus, who was the head of the Worcester Foundation for Experimental Biology. Until then, Pincus had worked on test tube fertilization. In 1952, Pincus notified Dr. John Rock, a gynecologist who was especially interested in studying progesterone. Rock had many patients who could test the new pill. Concurrently, Carl Djerassi, working for Syntex, had just learned how to produce a synthetic oral form of progesterone. Two different chemical companies, Searle and Syntex, started testing their similar forms of progesterone in 1953. Each company was backed by different companies, such as Parke-Davis, and Johnson & Johnson. Both groups were in a race to be the first pharmaceutical company to obtain FDA approval so that they could mass-produce their synthetic hormone and produce an effective...
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