Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Font Size

Most New Drugs Tapped From Nature

70% in Last 25 Years Were Derived From or Inspired by Nature
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

March 16, 2007 -- Nature has been the source or inspiration of most new drugs created in the last quarter century.

That's according to David Newman, DPhil, and Gordon Cragg, PhD. They work in the natural products branch of the National Cancer Institute (NCI).

Newman and Cragg reviewed all new drugs approved from January 1981 through June 2006 for all diseases worldwide. The list included 1,184 new drugs for a wide range of conditions.

Thirty percent of the new drugs were totally synthetic in origin. The other 70% were derived from or similar to chemicals found in nature, according to the researchers.

That doesn't mean that the nature-derived drugs were identical to nature's chemicals. In many cases, scientists had tweaked the chemicals for medicinal purposes.

"Much of nature's 'treasure trove of small molecules' remains to be explored," write Newman and Cragg. They note that the sea and microbes may hold promise for new drugs.

Newman and Cragg write that they "strongly advocate expanding, not decreasing, the exploration of nature" in the search for new drugs.

Their review appears in the Journal of Natural Products.

WebMD Video: Now Playing

Click here to wach video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

Which sex is the worst about washing up? Why is it so important? We’ve got the dirty truth on how and when to wash your hands.

Click here to watch video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing