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Remembering a Contraceptive Breakthrough

As we push for new innovation in contraceptive research and development, we must remember the important past breakthroughs in the field. One such breakthrough was the first synthesis of a progesterone – norethindrone – in October 1951. Dr. Carl Djerassi, who passed away on January 30th, 2015, at the age of 91, was one of two chemists along with a student assistant, who led this work.

Synthesis of a progesterone was an important step toward developing the oral contraceptive pill. The development pathway continued over the next decade, with combined oral contraceptives being approved for use in the United States in 1960.

Obituaries about Dr. Djerassi describe a man who was not only a chemist and inventor (he also developed the first commercial antihistamine), but also a novelist, playwright, art collector, rancher, head of two businesses, and more.

Read more about Dr. Djerassi’s life and accomplishments in articles from the New York Timesand the Economist.



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