Viviane Quirke Introduction In 1953 Alfred Spinks, an organic chemist who had joined ICI's Dyestuffs Division in 1942, drew up a survey of new fields for pharmacological research at ICI. 1 For this task, he began by seeking guidance from the company's Medical Department on the requirements for new drugs in medical practice.2 ICI were relative newcomers in the pharmaceutical field, and needed such information to gain an understanding of the market. The guidance Spinks obtained included epidemiological data and prescription statistics. In addition, Spinks searched through US and British pharmacological journals for potential research topics, and assessed their profitability and likelihood of success. He based his assessment not only on death rates, but also on the chronicity of conditions such as rheumatic diseases, and on the research activities of competitors in the UK and USA.