DISCOVERY ASPIRIN REAPPRAISAL PDF

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The discovery of aspirin is customarily said to have resulted from Felix Hoffmann's rheumatic father encouraging his son to produce a medicine devoid of the unpleasant effects of sodium salicylate. This was marketed in under the registered trademark of Aspirin. Until now, it has been generally accepted that Felix Hoffmann developed aspirin to help his rheumatic father.

The footnote also stated that Hoffmann had arranged for several chemical derivatives of salicylic acid to be examined, not just its acetyl ester.

No indication was given of what the others were, but in Heinrich Dreser, head of the experimental pharmacology laboratory at Elberfeld, named them in a paper as propionyl, butyryl, valeryl, and benzoyl salicylic acids. Is then the remainder of the footnote to be believed?

The page on which Hoffmann reported his synthesis of pure acetylsalicylic acid in is retained in the archives of Bayer AG in Leverkusen. The most likely interpretation, however, is that testing of acetylsalicylic acid was already taking place at the time Hoffmann wrote. However, his laboratory notebook shows that on 27 September , and three more times that year, he investigated acetylsalicylic acid on its own. If there was an interval of nearly 18 months between Dreser's first and later experimenting with acetylsalicylic acid, this interval obviously could not have ended much before 27 September , since he took up his appointment at Elberfield on 1 April His initial work testing salicylic acid derivatives must have been soon after his arrival there.

His laboratory reports from 27September onward do not reveal why Dreser was then testing acetylsalicylic acid on its own rather than with the other four derivatives named in his paper.

He was present when the derivatives of salicylic acid were tested by Dreser and came to the conclusion that acetylsalicylic acid was superior to all the other compounds. He believed, mistakenly, that the drug was harmful to the heart.

He stated that he then surreptitiously gave a supply of it to his colleague Dr Felix Goldmann, who then recruited physicians to evaluate the drug in strict secrecy. Their reports were most encouraging. Tinnitus was rare, while the antirheumatic effects were unmistakable. But there was more—a dentist had given the drug to a patient with a raised temperature as well as toothache. After a similar response was confirmed in other patients, Goldmann sent a report to the Bayer management.

This intervention might explain why Hoffmann synthesised stable, pure acetylsalicylic acid on 10 August Had acetylsalicylic acid been tested along with the other salicylic acid derivatives in April , there would have been no written record of its original synthesis, since Hoffmann did not write any reports between 13 March and 5 May Significantly, in none of his laboratory reports did he mention the synthesis of any of the other salicylates known to have been tested by Dreser.

Presumably they were prepared for evaluation in April Confirmation of this claim is found in the first published clinical report on aspirin by Kurt Witthauer of the Deaconess Hospital in Halle, which appeared in the April issue of Die Heilkunde. This explains why Dreser reinvestigated acetylsalicylic acid on its own in September After the introduction of aspirin, he had developed not only several more drugs but also cellulose acetate, acetate silk, and acetate safety film before leaving Bayer in to establish his own factory in Berlin.

There, he produced flame resistant materials based on acetyl cellulose and also pioneered the process of injection moulding of plastics.

Consequently, he enjoyed the affluent life style of a successful industrialist, yet because he was a Jew all this was put at risk after the Nazi party gained power. By the time the claim that Hoffmann had initiated the development of aspirin was published, the Nazis had banned Jews from the civil service and from independent positions in the professions and in economic life.

He was forced to take an associate into his company to avoid loss of contracts from state enterprises. A low profile was the order of the day, but that was not enough to prevent his company being forcibly transferred to another owner in Dreser had nothing whatsoever to do with the discovery, and Hoffmann carried out my chemical instructions in the first place without knowing the aim of the work.

Next to the showcase was a similar one filled with acetylcellulose, today also a product of worldwide importance, whose discovery by me it is impossible to doubt since it was established in a series of German patents from to But, at the main entrance to the museum there hung a large sign which forbade non-Aryans from entering this institute! Those who understand will read between the lines. Such historical revisionism was not unknown in the Nazi era.

He was spared from knowing that it would remain largely ignored for another half century. This statement, however, has never been challenged. Also, Hoffmann—who lived until without ever publishing his own account of the discovery of aspirin—repeatedly spoke of Dreser setting the drug aside, albeit without indicating for how long. But had it only been for a short period, he would not have mentioned it. Its successor, Bayer AG, had every reason last year to celebrate proudly the centenary of the most widely used drug in history.

I thank M Frings and H-H Pogarell of Bayer-Archiv, Leverkusen, as well as their former colleague Dr M Busch, for valuable assistance throughout the course of my investigations and visits to the archive. I am also indebted to Joan Girling for the translation of the paper in Pharmazi. Competing interests: None declared.

National Center for Biotechnology Information , U. Journal List BMJ v. Walter Sneader , deputy head. Author information Copyright and License information Disclaimer. This article has been cited by other articles in PMC. Challenge to the accepted account The footnote also stated that Hoffmann had arranged for several chemical derivatives of salicylic acid to be examined, not just its acetyl ester. Laboratory reports of Hoffmann and Dreser The page on which Hoffmann reported his synthesis of pure acetylsalicylic acid in is retained in the archives of Bayer AG in Leverkusen.

Acknowledgments I thank M Frings and H-H Pogarell of Bayer-Archiv, Leverkusen, as well as their former colleague Dr M Busch, for valuable assistance throughout the course of my investigations and visits to the archive. Footnotes Funding: None. References 1. Schmidt A. Berlin: De Greuter; Dreser H.

Pharmakologisches Labor Elberfeld. Prof Dreser, Die pharmakologische Laboratorium der Farbenfabriken, pp Munich: Meisenbach-Riffrath; Das pharmakologische Laboratorium der Farbenfabriken; pp. Bonhoeffer O. The manufacture or production of acidyl salicylic acids. British Patent , 3 March Propionyl-salicylic acid and process of making same. US Patent , 21 August Pharmaceutisch-wissenschafliche Abteilung; pp.

Leverkusen: Bayer; Witthauer K. Die Heilkunde. Fischer F. Die Pharmazeutischen Betriebe; pp. Stadlinger H. Escales E. Bodenbender HG. Angewandte Chemie. Support Center Support Center. External link. Please review our privacy policy.

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The Discovery of Aspirin: A Reappraisal

For almost a century, aspirin, one of the most important drugs of the 20th century, was the mainstay of symptomatic analgesia, used universally in the treatment of headaches, arthritis, painful neurological and other maladies. See Figure 1. But this is a controversial story. The use of salicylates dates back at least to c. It also was mentioned by Dioscorides c. However, it had fallen into disuse for centuries until the Reverend Edward Stone rediscovered its efficacy. He went to Wadham College, Oxford, in

DISCOVERY ASPIRIN REAPPRAISAL PDF

The discovery of aspirin

The discovery of aspirin is customarily said to have resulted from Felix Hoffmann's rheumatic father encouraging his son to produce a medicine devoid of the unpleasant effects of sodium salicylate. This was marketed in under the registered trademark of Aspirin. Until now, it has been generally accepted that Felix Hoffmann developed aspirin to help his rheumatic father. The footnote also stated that Hoffmann had arranged for several chemical derivatives of salicylic acid to be examined, not just its acetyl ester. No indication was given of what the others were, but in Heinrich Dreser, head of the experimental pharmacology laboratory at Elberfeld, named them in a paper as propionyl, butyryl, valeryl, and benzoyl salicylic acids. Is then the remainder of the footnote to be believed?

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