Corticosteroids have been used as drug treatment for some time. Lewis Sarett of Merck & Co. was the first to synthesize cortisone, using a complicated 36-step process that started with deoxycholic acid, which was extracted from ox bile .  The low efficiency of converting deoxycholic acid into cortisone led to a cost of US $200 per gram. Russell Marker , at Syntex , discovered a much cheaper and more convenient starting material, diosgenin from wild Mexican yams . His conversion of diosgenin into progesterone by a four-step process now known as Marker degradation was an important step in mass production of all steroidal hormones, including cortisone and chemicals used in hormonal contraception .  In 1952, . Peterson and . Murray of Upjohn developed a process that used Rhizopus mold to oxidize progesterone into a compound that was readily converted to cortisone.  The ability to cheaply synthesize large quantities of cortisone from the diosgenin in yams resulted in a rapid drop in price to US $6 per gram, falling to $ per gram by 1980. Percy Julian's research also aided progress in the field.  The exact nature of cortisone's anti-inflammatory action remained a mystery for years after, however, until the leukocyte adhesion cascade and the role of phospholipase A2 in the production of prostaglandins and leukotrienes was fully understood in the early 1980s.
There is concern that P-glycoprotein mediated efflux contributes to steroid resistance. Therefore, this study examined bidirectional corticosteroid transport and induction capabilities for P-glycoprotein (P-gp) to understand which of the systemic and inhaled corticosteroids interacted with P-gp to the greatest extent. Hydrocortisone, prednisolone, prednisone, methylprednisolone, and dexamethasone represented systemically active drugs, while fluticasone propionate, beclomethasone dipropionate, ciclesonide and budesonide represented inhaled corticosteroids. Aldosterone and fludrocortisone represented mineralocorticoids. All drugs were detected using individually optimised HPLC protocols. Transport studies were conducted through Caco-2 monolayers. Hydrocortisone and aldosterone had efflux ratios below , while prednisone showed a P-gp mediated efflux ratio of only compared to its active drug, prednisolone, with an efflux ratio of . Dexamethasone and beclomethasone had efflux ratios of and respectively, while this increased to for methylprednisolone. Fluticasone showed an efflux ratio of . Protein expression studies suggested that all of the inhaled corticosteroids were able to induce P-gp expression, from to 2 times control levels. Most of the systemic corticosteroids had higher passive permeability (>20×10(-6) cm/s) compared to the inhaled corticosteroids (>5×10(-6) cm/s), except for budesonide, with permeability similar to the systemic corticosteroids. Inhaled corticosteroids are not transported by P-gp to the same extent as systemic corticosteroids. However, they are able to induce P-gp production. Thus, inhaled corticosteroids may have greater interactions with other P-gp substrates, but P-gp itself is less likely to influence resistance to the drugs.