Tube of Prontosil tablets (the first sulphonamide), after 1935, by Bayer, German
Prontosil was the first commercial sulphonamide antibacterial drug, available from 1935 onwards. For the first time some of the serious problems caused by bacteria, such as blood infections, tonsillitis and puerperal fever, could be cured. At first, there was scepticism surrounding the drug but it was embraced whole heartedly after some famous success stories. Prontosil started the race to find further similar compounds to tackle other infections.
Sulphonamides were discovered by Gerhard Domagk (1895-1964), a German biochemist who spotted their ability to kill bacteria in 1932 while studying dyes. Domagk won the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1939.