Monday, July 28, 2008


Felix Hoffman, a German Chemist

The effects of aspirin-like substances have been known since the ancient Greeks recorded the use of the willow bark as a fever fighter. The leaves and bark of the willow tree contain a substance called salicin, a naturally occurring compound similar to acetylsalicylic acid, the chemical name for aspirin. Many people are curious about who invented aspirin. While no one person invented aspirin, the origin of aspirin as we know it came about through research. Aspirin discovery was actually the result of the work of several aspirin inventors. In 1897, a German chemist with Friedrich Bayer and Company was searching for a treatment for his father's arthritis pain and produced the first stable form of a product introduced as Aspirin. By 1899, The Bayer Company was providing aspirin to physicians to give to their patients. Here is a timeline that shows the origins of aspirin, the history of its development, and some of the people who invented improvements and contributed to making aspirin the pain reliever and preventive measure that it is today:

400 BC Greek physician Hippocrates prescribes the bark and leaves of the willow tree (rich in a substance called salicin) to relieve pain and fever.

1832 A German chemist experiments with salicin and creates salicylic acid (SA).

1897 Chemist, Felix Hoffmann, at Bayer in Germany, chemically synthesizes a stable form of ASA powder that relieves his father's rheumatism. The compound later becomes the active ingredient in aspirin named - "a" from acetyl, "spir" from the spirea plant (which yields salicin) and "in," a common suffix for medications.

1899 Bayer distributes aspirin powder to physicians to give to their patients. Aspirin is soon the number one drug worldwide.

1915 Aspirin becomes available without a prescription. Manufactured in tablet form.

1920s Used to treat symptoms of pain related to rheumatism, lumbago & neuralgia.

1948 Dr. Lawrence Craven, a California general practitioner, notices that the 400 men he prescribed aspirin to hadn't suffered any heart attacks. He regularly recommends to all patients and colleagues that "an aspirin a day" could dramatically reduce the risk of heart attack.
1952 Children's Chewable Aspirin is introduced.

1969 Bayer Aspirin tablets were included in the self-medication kits taken to the moon by the Apollo astronauts.

Early 1970s Medical world began to understand how aspirin works when scientists discovered that it inhibits the production of chemicals, called prostaglandins, that are involved in inflammation.

1984 Toleraid® microcoating (clear coat) is added to Genuine Bayer Aspirin to make the tablets easier to swallow.

1988 The use of aspirin expands beyond pain relief to that of a potential lifesaver. The FDA proposes use of aspirin for reducing the risk of recurrent MI (myocardial infarction) or heart attack and preventing first MI in patients with unstable angina. The FDA also approved the use of aspirin for the prevention of recurrent transient-ischemic attacks or "mini-strokes" in men and made aspirin standard therapy for previous strokes in men. In addition to its role in heart attack and stroke prevention, research continues to explore aspirin's possible role in prevention of colon, esophageal cancer and other diseases.

1988 The aspirin component of the Physicians' Health Study (PHS; NEJM), a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of 22,071 apparently healthy men, was terminated early due to a statistically extreme 44% reduction in the risk of a first myocardial infarction (MI). Dr. Charles Hennekens, the lead author of the study, later conducted a meta-analysis of this and four other aspirin trials and found an overall 32% reduction in CVD events.

1996 Twice as many people choose aspirin over the personal computer as an invention they couldn't live without in a national survey on inventions conducted by MIT.

1998 The results of the Thrombosis Prevention Trial (TPT; Lancet) clearly confirm the effectiveness of ASA in the prevention of MI in persons having cardiovascular risk factors.

1998 The Hypertension Optimal Treatment study (HOT; Lancet) is the first to demonstrate a beneficial effect of low-dose ASA in addition to antihypertensive therapy in the prevention of myocardial infarction and major cardiovascular events in patients with treated high blood pressure.

2001 The results of the Primary Prevention Project (PPP; Lancet) add to the evidence that low-dose ASA is effective in the prevention of cardiovascular events, especially myocardial infarction, in persons at increased vascular risk.

2003 Bayer filed a Citizen's Petition with the FDA to broaden the professional labeling of aspirin to include an indication for prevention of a first heart attack in individuals at moderate or greater risk of coronary heart disease. This important step follows guidelines from the American Heart Association and the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommending aspirin therapy be considered for those at moderate risk for a cardiovascular event, as defined by a 6-10% or greater risk over a 10-year period. The petition is currently under review by the FDA.


ahmed said...

In praise of … Aspirin

Evidence of the medical use of willow bark dates back at least 4,000 years, to a stone tablet found in the city of Ur in present day Iraq

packer99 said...

Forgot to mention 1918 in that timeline - megadoses of between 8 and 30g per day of aspirin given to flu sufferers during the great pandemic, may have been responsible for millions of the deaths attributed to the flu itself.