A scientist looking at data on a computer monitor

Timeline of key medical research achievements in the 1990s:​


  • COX-2, a major new target for anti-inflammatory drugs, discovered by scientists at Searle
  • First gene therapy experiment in a person with adenosine deaminase deficiency


  • Filgrastim (Amgen) white blood-cell stimulant, G-CSF launched in UK


  • Etidronate (Procter & Gamble). First bisphosphonate in UK for osteoporosis


  • Specific monoamine oxidase-B inhibitor Selegiline (Orion) approved for Parkinson’s disease
  • Acarbose (Bayer) first alpha glucosidase inhibitor for type 2 diabetes
  • Paclitaxel (Bristol-Myers Squibb) approved in UK for treatment of ovarian cancer


  • Dual serotonin and noradrenaline reuptake inhibitor Venlafaxine (Wyeth) approved for depression


  • Lamotrigine (Wellcome) - major advance launched as monotherapy in epilepsy treatment
  • Interferon beta-1b (Schering Health Care) - first treatment for multiple sclerosis


  • Olanzapine (Eli Lilly) introduced for schizophrenia
  • Losartan (MSD) first angiotensin 2 receptor antagonist for high blood pressure
  • Ropinirole (SmithKline Beecham) launched for Parkinson’s disease
  • Saquinavir (Roche) launched – first protease inhibitor for AIDS in UK


  • Malarone [Atovaquone and proguanil] (Glaxo Wellcome) a new treatment for P.falciparum malaria is introduced
  • First medicines for Alzheimer’s disease available – Donepezil (Pfizer) and Tacrine (Parke-Davis)
  • Latanoprost (Pharmacia & Upjohn) first prostaglandin analogue for glaucoma
  • Reboxetine (Pharmacia & Upjohn) first noradrenaline reuptake inhibitor for depression


  • Viagra (Pfizer) first treatment for erectile dysfunction
  • UK Prospective Diabetes Study results published with important consequences for disease management
  • Rituximab (Roche) launched for rheumatoid arthritis
  • Montelukast (MSD), an oral medication, authorised for asthma


  • Bicalutamide (Zeneca) launched for prostate cancer Meningitis vaccination programme initiated
  • Zanamivir (Glaxo Wellcome) first neuraminidase inhibitor for treating influenza launched in the UK
  • Oxaliplatin (Sanofi-Synthélabo) introduced for metastatic colorectal cancer

Back to 1980–1989
On to 2000 onwards

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