Technology to inject drugs into the body is a recent de […]
Technology to inject drugs into the body is a recent development. Hypodermic syringes (hypodermic means ‘beneath the skin’) consist of a hollow needle attached to a syringe. They pierce the skin and inject substances into the bloodstream. They are also used to extract liquid such as blood from the body.
In the 1850s the French veterinary surgeon Charles Gabriel Pravaz and the Scottish doctor Alexander Wood developed a syringe. It had a hollow needle fine enough to pierce the skin. Syringe barrels were initially made of metal, but by 1866 they were made from glass (the needles remained metal). This enabled doctors to see what medication remained in the barrel.
By the late 1800s hypodermic syringes were widely available, though there were few injectable drugs (less than 2% of drugs in 1905). Insulin was discovered in 1921. This drug had to be injected into the bloodstream, so it created a new market for manufacturers of hypodermic needles and drugs.
Hypodermic needles were sterilised and reused until the development of disposable syringes. In 1956 the New Zealand pharmacist Colin Murdoch invented the disposable plastic syringe. Using disposable syringes can prevent diseases such as AIDS being spread through reuse of syringes.