, Germany (German States) (German Empire) - 1897 - Aspirin is invented (Felix Hoffmann (Bayer), Germany)
Aspirin Discoverer Dies an Unknown Man
"CHICAGO (UPI) - In these days of deadlines and taxes and other headaches, offer a cheer for Felix Hoffmann, one of the world's great painkillers.
Hoffmann solved a problem and narrowed the odds in mankind's fight with misery He developed our most popular drug - acetylsalicylic acid, better known as aspirin.
By whatever name, its annual worldwide production is in the millions of pounds, according to Encyclopedia Britannica. And despite recent price increases, it's still the world's cheapest drug.
Aspirin is not regarded as a cure for anything, but throughout the world, and especially America, the little pills are downed at an ever increasing rate to combat a vast assortment of pain, with headache and arthritis at the top of the list.
It was relieving the pain of the latter that brought Hoffmann the distinction not only of developing the drug but also of being the first person to give someone an aspirin tablet.
This happened when Hoffmann was 29 years old, a German chemist preparing acetylated derivatives of a number of compounds. His father was a victim of articular rheumatism. Salicylates a few years earlier had been introduced for treatment of rheumatic ailments. The old man tried this new product, but the salicylic acid made him nauseated.
Hoffmann, carrying out experiments with drugs then being prescribed, recorded that on Aug. 10, 1897, he synthesized acetylsalicylic acid from the interaction of salicyclic acid and acetic anhydride - the first pure aspirin. He had a painkiller for his father and the world.
Hoffman's boss, Heinrich Dresser, joined the name aspirin, from the plant spiraea, and launched a huge marketing program.
For Hoffmann there came a career switch. Someone decided he could do a better job for the company in another capacity, away from the laboratory where he had developed one of the hottest selling items in the history of commerce. Within 18 months after he first synthesized aspirin he was put in charge of the pharmaceutical sales department.
Hoffmann climbed still higher on the executive hill and retired in June, 1928. By then aspirin had become a household word, but not many knew of Hoffmann's contributions. Nearly a half-century after perfecting the world's first true wonder drug. Hoffmann died in Lausanne, in February, 1946, stile largely unknown in a world of headaches."
August 19, 1971
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