Penicillin specimen with original packaging, c 1950.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
In 1928 Alexander Fleming (1881-1955) discovered that the Penicillium mould produced a substance toxic to bacteria, which he called penicillin. ln 1940 a team at Oxford isolated penicillin and made it on a laboratory scale. Industrial production was led by US companies during the Second World War. However British companies, particularly Glaxo, did make penicillin in the war and then bought US technology to greatly increase output. This particular product was manufactured by Glaxo.