Antibiotics are drugs that kill bacteria, but not viruses. Certain antibiotics can be used to treat fungal infections, such as thrush.
Drugs are substances that cause changes to the body. Some can help the body, others can harm it. Certain drugs can be extracted from natural sources and their existence has been known of for a long time. For example, willow bark was used by the ancient Greeks to help cure fevers and pains. It was later discovered that the active ingredient was salicylic acid. This was modified by chemists into the substance we call aspirin, which is less irritating to the stomach than salicylic acid.
New medical drugs have to be tested to ensure they work and are safe before they can be prescribed. There are three main stages:
You may wish to view this BBC News item from 2006 about a drugs trial that left six volunteers very ill.
Most substances do not pass all the tests and trials, so drug development is expensive and takes a long time.
Medical drug trials are not without risk. Sometimes severe and unexpected side-effects occur.
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