The development of penicillin is one of the greatest triumphs of modern medicine. People realized that chemotherapy really was practical after the advent of the sulfa drugs – but they had limitations. Penicillin hit a much wider spectrum of organisms and had fewer problems with resistance.
The original development was done in Great Britain [ Fleming, Florey, Chain, Heatley, etc.], but GB was short on resources, and the United States took up the task of mass production of penicillin. They managed to ramp up production one-thousand fold between 1943 and 1945, through deep-tank fermentation, more productive strains, and a better nutrient solution.
As production rose, availability increased. At first, penicillin was largely reserved for US and British military needs. Later, it became available to US and British civilians, and soon after for general usage.
But there was a time window of several months in which American-produced penicillin was available for American wounded but not for French casualties. Fortunately, it happens that penicillin is rapidly excreted in urine. It can be recovered. Between January and April 1945, Rhône-Poulenc extracted penicillin from the urine of wounded American servicemen being treated in hospitals around Paris, penicillin which was then used to treat the wounded of the French Army. They typically recovered about 100 doses from 300 liters of urine.
When American piss is the elixir of life – that is national greatness.