25 August, 2008

British media and Dr.Fleming(2)

continued ---------
   Florey's reaction to this contentious publicity was one of horror.
When, following Robinson's letter, the reporters descended on the
Dunn School he refused to see them. There was more behind this
reaction than a personal dislike of publicity. 

He knew that sensational stories about penicillin would create a 
demand that could not possibly be satisfied at that time, and wold 
thus lead to tragic disappointments. He knew also that limelight is 
bad for research workers, being distracting and disruptive, and did 
notwant his team to be exposed to it.

Finally, there was at that time a strong ethical disapproval of doctors 
who advertised themselves or their work by giving personal interviews
to the lay press; the General Medical Council had been known to strike
such offenders off the Medical Register. 

Florey would not be liable to such strong measures since he was not in 
clinical practice, but a disinclination to talk to the press was general 
throughout the medical profession. So Florey told Mrs. Turner to send 
the reporters away; and it was not unnatural that they should have gone, 
somewhat resentfully, to an obviously warmer welcome,e at St. Mary's 

 During the nest two years scores of articles on penicillin and many
interviews with Fleming appeared in the public press. Anyone
without prior knowledge who read these would be left in no doubt that
Fleming was the man---- indeed the only---- person responsible for the
therapeutic use of penicillin. and these versions of 'penicillin story'
are given in such circumstantial details that even someone familiar
with the truth might begin to doubt his own knowledge.

This image of  Fleming as sole creator of penicillin therapy was made
to seem credible only because certain facts ignored or distorted.
The true facts are:

       first, that Fleming did nothing obvious to promote penicillin
               therapy between 1929 and 1941.
      second, that the Sir William Dunn School of Pathology, Oxford
              was the first laboratory to produce penicillin on  a large scale
             and to show that it protected infected animals.
      third, that the first effective clinical trials was on patients in an
            Oxford Hospital, in which Fleming took no part.