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December 5, 1977

Antiviral Drugs

JAMA. 1977;238(23):2531-2532. doi:10.1001/jama.1977.03280240077032

A few among us may recall the excitement and astonishment that we experienced when first having access to penicillin to treat serious or life-threatening infections. With the discovery of this antibiotic, a new class of therapeutic agents was founded, and there opened before us therapeutic vistas beyond anything we had dreamed of. The second major antibiotic to be introduced was streptomycin for the treatment of tuberculosis. For the first time, we witnessed recoveries from tuberculous meningitis, a disease that had resulted in 100% mortality. The privilege of using these miracle drugs shortly after their discovery was, for some of us, the most exciting experience of our lifetime. In the years that have followed, we grew accustomed to the discovery of powerful new therapeutic agents, accepted their introduction into medicine with little or no fanfare, and lost the excitement and admiration they should have invoked in us.

However, the development of