History (OCR) - The Development of Penicillin

GCSE History (OCR)

Paper 2 - The Development of Penicillin

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Fleming and Penicillin:

Fleming discovered pencillin in 1928 – He was studying staphylococci germs and saw that penicillium mould could kill the germs.  He thought that penicillin (a drug made from the penicillium mould) might be a useful cure.

Factors which helped him:

  • Chance: He left some staphylococci germs in a dish. Penicillium mould spores landed in the dish by accident.  This led to Fleming’s discovery.
  • Individual brilliance: Fleming was a genius.  He saw that penicillium mould killed germs. He tested it on an eye infection and it worked.  He realised this might be an important cure.
  • Communication: Fleming wrote an article about penicillin in a medical journal.  This spread his ideas further – across Britain and to the USA.  (read about Florey & Chain)

Criticisms of Fleming's work:

  • He was not the first to see penicillin.  Joseph Lister had used it in the 1880s.
  • Fleming was not able to make enough penicillin to cure humans.  Fleming could not find a way of producing enough penicillin fast enough.
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Florey & Chain and Penicillin:

Florey & Chain’s method of producing penicillin 1938-1941. Florey and Chain read Fleming’s article about penicillin.  They found a way of mass-producing penicillium mould using a freeze-drying technique. Their method was used in America and Britain to produce large amounts of penicillin.

Factors which helped them:

  • Communication: faster communication and travel spread Florey & Chain's ideas to the USA where the American government heard of it.  The American government wanted to use penicillin to treat soldiers.
  • Government: the American government gave Florey & Chain enough money to fund five years’ of research.  Without it, they would not have been able to discover their new method of producing penicillin.
  • Drugs companies: after 1941 they set up huge factories to mass produce penicillin because they could make a profit from selling it as a cure
  • War: World War 2 broke out in 1939. The American and British governments funded development of penicillin because they saw how useful it would be for treating injured soldiers
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Who was more important – Fleming or Florey &Chain?


Some people say Fleming was more important. He was the first to write about penicillin’s power.  His article on penicillin inspired Florey and Chain to begin work on mass-producing the drug.

Florey & Chain:

Some say Florey & Chain were more important.  Fleming was unable to grow enough penicillium mould.  If it wasn’t for Florey & Chain’s massproduction methods, it would have been impossible to make enough to treat a human.  Besides, Fleming wasn’t even the first person to discover penicillin.

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Exams on this on the 24th gahh I get all of it just fail with exam technique :'/


Amina wrote:

Exams on this on the 24th gahh I get all of it just fail with exam technique :'/

If you want I'll make a resource on telling you how to answer each type of question?


^^ please do!

Samantha Calvey

Amina wrote:

Exams on this on the 24th gahh I get all of it just fail with exam technique :'/

Your exam is on the 24th?! mine's tomorrow!


mines tomorrow tooo im so scaredddd :( where can i have the technique for each question??

Alistair Simpson

Im a bit worried about paper 2 tomorrow as well thats why im revising right now i need to reasure my self on a few things

Dan Corless

Think the resource is good and a good extra recap dont know if it helps anyone but search for "history medicine through time paper 2 tips " helped with exam technque and remined me about cross referencing. anyway good luck to anyone takin exam tomorrow


It's on my user page here:


hope it helps, and good luck tomorrow guys! ***

Dan Corless

cheers thanks every1 for help only 3 exams left now 2 chinese and dt. tbh thought exam went pretty well


No worries!

I thought it went pretty well too! Only 3 sources that I had never seen before, only I didn't finish the last question but hopefully I picked up around 8 marks! ***

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