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Technology in Australia 1788-1988Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering
Table of Contents

Chapter 9

I Introduction

II The Australian Chemical Industry

III Pharmaceuticals
i Prosperous pioneers
ii War-time pharmaceutical chemistry
iii Commonwealth Serum Laboratories
iv Post-war pharmaceutical manufacture
v Public sector policies

IV Chemists In Other Industries

V The Dawn Of Modern Chemical Industry - High Pressure Synthesis

VI The Growth Of Synthetic Chemicals - Concentration, Rationalisation And International Links

VII Australian Industrial Chemical Research Laboratories

VIII The Plastics Industry

IX The Paint Industry

X Acknowledgements



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Prosperous pioneers (continued)

The first product successfully launched under this strategy was 'ERYC' (Registered Trademark), an erythromycin preparation.

Erythromycin is an excellent antibiotic with a wide spectrum of antimicrobial activity but it is acid-labile. Therefore when the drug is administered orally most of it is degraded by the acid in the stomach which leads to poor bioavailability and unreliable blood levels. To overcome this problem Faulding provided drug delivery in small pellets, contained in a capsule and prepared by special techniques including fluidised bed coating to achieve controlled release characteristics. The approach proved a remarkable success in Australia and overseas, by exports and licensing of major overseas manufacture. In 1985 the technique was extended to yet another antibiotic, doxycycline.

Grimwade and Faulding started the transition from trading into manufacturing drugs, but they did so selectively and from the basis of a sound trading business. The next phase in emancipation, commitment to manufacturing drugs as the main business, involved higher risks and increasing dependence on innovation and research.

Two men stand out in this commitment, Joseph Bosisto and George Nicholas. Both relied on innovation and research as the source of their speciality products to a much higher degree than their contemporaries and both sought to broaden their markets by exports. They had the makings of builders of an indigenous Australian drug industry.

Bosisto, predating Nicholas by about sixty years, pioneered Australian medicinal botany and sought to build a business on its unique natural products.

Joseph Bosisto migrated from England in 1848, to take up a three year contractual appointment with F. H. Faulding & Co.{57} When his contract finished in 1851 he moved to Melbourne and established a pharmacy business in Richmond. For the next half century Bosisto's influence on professional pharmacy in Australia proved stronger than that of any other man. He promoted the creation of pharmaceutical libraries, museums, and periodicals; he became the prime mover in establishing the Pharmaceutical Society of Victoria in 1857 (the first such society in Australia), the Pharmacy Board of Victoria (1876) and the Victorian College of Pharmacy (1881). Fascinated, like his friend Baron Ferdinand von Mueller, by Australian flora, Bosisto undertook research into its many aspects, always with an eye to possible world markets for Australian natural products.

He did research on the native hopbush, local tannin-containing species and many plants containing essential oils; he made an ingenious survey of the eucalyptus content in plants of Victoria's bushlands and grew peppermint to produce an oil matching the best quality English oil. With advice on the most appropriate location from his friend von Mueller he grew opium poppy yielding a morphine content equal to the world's best. He was the driving force in one of the first commercial ventures based on Australian natural products, in partnership with Felton Grimwade, the distillation of eucalyptus oil and its export.

He also studied the life cycle and culture of Australian leeches -yes, leeches -which were then in vogue in Europe as an alternative to venesection and for withdrawing blood from congested areas. He even perfected the method of keeping the leeches alive on their long voyage to England; Australian leeches, however, -the five striped variety -had to compete with the established German or speckled and the Hungarian or green variety, so the British Pharmacopeia took its time to give the five-striped alien its blessing. By then -1914 -it was too late for Bosisto; he died in 1898.

Organisations in Australian Science at Work - F. H. Faulding and Co. Ltd; Felton Grimwade; Pharmaceutical Society of Victoria; Pharmacy Board of Victoria; Victorian College of Pharmacy

People in Bright Sparcs - Bosisto, J.; Faulding, Francis H.; Grimwade, F. S.; Nicholas, George; von Mueller, Baron Ferdinand

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© 1988 Print Edition pages 654 - 656, Online Edition 2000
Published by Australian Science and Technology Heritage Centre, using the Web Academic Resource Publisher