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Today is the birthday of a tablet of which about 50 billion are swallowed each year worldwide (1). So today I will tell you the story of its genesis. Of the birth of Aspirin.
|Aspirin 3D pic is a Public Domain image adapted by @sciencemug (source: wikia.com)|
Aspirin is acetylsalicylic acid.
Well, to be more precise, “Aspirin” is the first commercial name of a medication which active principle is acetylsalicylic acid.
Aspirin is first put on the market by Bayer in 1899 (P), but “the first sample of pure acetylsalicylic acid [is prepared] on 10 August 1897” (P) by Doctor Felix Hoffmann, a “chemist in the pharmaceutical laboratory of the [then] German dye manufacturer Friedrich Bayer & Co in Elberfeld” (P).
The official story goes that Hoffman’s dad suffers from rheumatism, and asks his chemistry savvy son to create something better than the medicine he is presently taking, the sodium salicycate, since that drug has heavy side effects such as gastric irritation, nausea and tinnitus (which is the annoying ringing ear) (P).
Felix, then, consults “the chemical literature[, comes] across the synthesis of acetylsalicylic acid” (P), and, as above stated, makes it.
So this is what it is on the matter, and it’s all based on the account of “a footnote in a history of chemical engineering” (P) written in 1934 by Albrecht Schmidt, “a chemist [...] retired from IG Farbenindustrie—the organization into which F Bayer & Co had been incorporated in 1925” (P).
|Felix Hoffmann pic is a Public Domain image adapted by @sciencemug (source: wikia.com)|
The actual facts, however, are