Pharmacognosy is the forgotten hero of drug-related science:
The number of natural product drug discovery programs has steadily declined since the 1980s, primarily because pharmaceutical companies have shifted to using synthetic chemical libraries. Prior to 1980, Pharmacognosists were the Einsteins and Indiana Jones of drug discovery and were viewed in high esteem. They tapped into nature, finding solutions to problems that would have otherwise ruined mankind.
● Salicylic acid, the precursor of Aspirin, was isolated in 1874 from Willow bark.
● More potent painkillers such as Morphine and Codeine, were isolated from the Opium poppy.
● The antimalarial agent Quinine was separated from Cinchona (China Bark).
In the past, when a new drug was found, it meant that someone discovered a new natural origin from which a cure could arise. However, the modern definition of drug discovery means that already existing compounds are combined in a different way from which a cure could arise.