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The History of Dissolvable Pills

For most of the 1800s, medicines were administered in powdered form. When the first pills were invented, they were not practical or effective because the outer shell was hard and didn’t allow the stomach to break it down properly. That all changed when the first dissolvable pills were invented by William Upjohn in 1884. Upjohn also invented a machine for mass-producing these pills with a regulated dosage. In 1886, he established the Upjohn Pill and Granule Company to produce the dissolvable pills on a mass scale. Over the next century, the company made 186 different medications available in pill form. In 1902, the company changed its name to the Upjohn Company and began providing a full array of pharmaceutical products. The company remained a leader in the industry for over 100 years. In 1995, it merged with Swedish-based Pharmacia AB and was renamed the Pharmacia Corporation. In 2002, Pfizer purchased the company. Upjohn’s invention changed the face of medicine by allowing many life-saving medications to be administered effectively. In fact, his original 1884 dissolvable pill is not very different from the type we use today.

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