Arthur Eichengrün
Felix Hoffman

Aspirin is often referred to as a miracle drug. The inexpensive medicine relieves pain without addiction, reduces fever, and even helps prevent heart attack. There is some evidence Aspirin even prevents cancer.

Aspirin is the distilled and purified version of medicine known since ancient times. Hippocrates, he of the Hippocratic Oath, noted that willow leave and bark relieve pain and fever. Salicylic acid, the active ingredient in Aspirin, is especially plentiful in willow tree bark.

Low cost, non-addictive aspirin started as an alternative to opioids for pain relief. In the 18th and early 19th century, opioids were available without prescription and addiction was rampant.

Early versions of pure salicylic acid were unsuccessful. The acid was too harsh on the stomach without further refinement and the proposed dosages were far too high.

Hoffman is widely credited with creating modern Aspirin due to a footnote in a German encyclopedia published in 1934.

Looking back over lab notes, historians believe Eichengrün, Hoffman’s lab assistant, is the true inventor. However, Eichengrün was Jewish and Bayer a German company. Nazi’s likely revised the history in their attempt to wipe out not only Jewish people but also Jewish achievement. Hoffman was also the inventor of heroin.

Interestingly, Bayer was originally a dye manufacturer. Aspirin was one of the first pharmaceuticals. One reason that Aspirin was so successful, besides that it worked, was Bayer’s history as a consumer marketing company. The company had a well-known brand name, reach into the consumer market channels, and B2C expertise. At one point, Bayer market aspirin, heroin, and cocaine as effective over-the-counter medicines.

Related image
Early Bayer advertisement

By 1950, Aspirin became the most widely sold painkiller in the world. However, it wasn’t until the 1970s that scientists began to figure out why the drug actually worked. Despite the age and popularity of the medicine, it remains one of the most widely studied drugs with evermore uses.

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