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The earliest drugstores date back to the Middle Ages. The first known drugstore was opened by Arabian pharmacists in Baghdad in 754, and many more soon began operating throughout the medieval Islamic world and eventually medieval Europe. By the 19th century, many of the drug stores in Europe and North America had eventually developed into larger pharmaceutical companies.
Key discoveries of the 1920s and 1930s, such as insulin and penicillin, became mass-manufactured and distributed. Several attempts were made to increase regulation and to limit financial links between companies and prescribing physicians, including by the relatively new U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Such calls increased in the 1960s after the thalidomide tragedy came to light, in which the use of a new tranquillizer in pregnant women caused severe birth defects. In 1964, the World Medical Association issued its Declaration of Helsinki, which set standards for clinical research and demanded that subjects give their informed consent before enrolling in an experiment. Pharmaceutical companies became required to prove efficacy in clinical trials before marketing drugs.
The Syndicate has prevailed in its ability to adapt in this new regulated environment by butchering the weak around them. Small biotechnology firms were struggling for survival, which led to the formation of mutually beneficial partnerships with large pharmaceutical companies and a host of corporate buyouts of the smaller firms.
Pharmaceutical manufacturing became concentrated, with a few large companies holding a dominant position throughout the world and with a few companies producing medicines within each country. Every form of drug can be found in one of the Syndicate Pharma Dispensers conveniently located near open war-zones.
The staff of such facilities are well rewarded for their expertise and are generous enough to heal all infantry in a radius to full health when asked properly (they demand payment for their services, though; did you think medicine is free?).