The History Of Aspirin
Whether it’s having a mild fever or muscle pains from going to the gym, many people have taken or have at least seen this common drug known as, Aspirin. This medication has become the leading over-the-counter drug that can be found in majority of homes, as well as in many common drugstores and pharmacies across the U.S., with an astonishing statistic of 29 billion tablets taken by Americans per year. Neal, R. (2004, February 10). World’s Wonder Drug. Retrieved April 9, 2019, from https://www.cbsnews.com/news/worlds-wonder-drug/. It is no surprise why this medication has garnered the name, “one of the most important pharmacological achievements of the twentieth century”. Montinari, M. R., Minelli, S., & De Caterina, R. (2019, February). The first 3500 years of aspirin history from its roots – A concise summary. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30391545. Being easily accessible with one quick trip to the store, it has a wide variety of benefits such as soothing headaches and muscle pains, to even aiding more serious health problems, such as preventing strokes and heart attacks, but when did this “miracle” drug first originate?
The origin of this medication dates back to almost 4,000 years ago to an ancient Mesopotamian civilization, known as the Sumerians. In order to treat any pains or inflammation they had back then. They came upon the discovery of a natural herbal extract found in the bark of willow trees, as well as in various fruits, vegetables, and grains. An important component found in the herbal extract is Salicylic acid. This acid is known to have natural anti-inflammatory properties, allowing other civilizations such as the China and Greece to take advantage of its unique properties, finding it especially useful to treat pathologies such as, goiters, hemorrhages, and fevers. Even the famous philosopher Hippocrates, prescribed his patients to chew on the bark of willow trees to help relieve any fevers or muscle pains. Aspirin: Turn-of-the-Century Miracle Drug. (2019, April 04). Retrieved April 11, 2019, from https://www.sciencehistory.org/distillations/magazine/aspirin-turn-of-the-century-miracle-drug. It wasn’t until 1897, where a chemist named Felix Hoffman, who worked, “in the laboratories of a German manufacturer of dyes for fabric, the Friedrich Bayer Corp.” Neal, R. (2004, February 10). World’s Wonder Drug. Retrieved April 14, 2019, from https://www.cbsnews.com /news/worlds-wonder-drug/ . Created acetylsalicylic acid to help with his father’s Arthritis. Later trademarking the name that we now know it today as Aspirin.
Today, Aspirin is produced in factories using a method, known as dry granulation. The first step of the process is to weigh the amount of cornstarch and lubricant for what is needed for the specified dosage and batch size. Then is combined with purified water and heated until a paste forms, while the lubricant gets mixed in using a Glen mixer. When the mixture is fully combined, it is distributed into, “7/8 to 1 inches (2.22 to 2.54 centimeters) in size” Aspirin. (n.d.). Retrieved April 14, 2019, from http://www.madehow.com/Volume-1/Aspirin.html. Once this large batch has been created, it is filtered through a Fitzpatrick mill and then is lastly, compressed into a tablet shape. Then is off to be shipped to its destination. While this is just one of the most common ways Aspirin is produced, it can also be found in multiple forms such as a, “tablet, chewable tablet, powder, and a gum to take by mouth and a suppository to use rectally”. Aspirin: MedlinePlus Drug Information. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a682878.html.
Aspirin can be either prescribed by a doctor, or can be non prescriptive. Before prescribing aspirin, a doctor may ask if the patient is, “allergic to aspirin, other medications for pain or fever, tartrazine dye, or any other medications”Aspirin: MedlinePlus Drug Information. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a682878.html. Doctors may prescribe Aspirin to patients to help relieve symptoms such as, rheumatoid arthritis (swelling of joints) or any other any other rheumatologic conditions. Prescription aspirin comes as an, “extended-release (long-acting) tablet” Aspirin: MedlinePlus Drug Information. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a682878.html. Often taken with a glass of water, twice a day, or however the doctor prescribes. While, non prescription aspirin can be often found in any local pharmacy, to help relieve common symptoms such as headaches, fevers, muscle aches, and menstrual cycle cramps. People may also take non prescription aspirin to prevent ischemic strokes or to reduce risk of heart attack. Non prescription Aspirin is a regular tablet with a delayed release, compared to prescription Aspirin, that allows the medication to be released in the small intestine to prevent damage to the stomach and is usually taken every 4-6 hours to treat pain Aspirin: MedlinePlus Drug Information. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a682878.html. The anti-inflammatory effects that Aspirin has is, “due the inhibition of enzyme cyclooxygenase, causing the suppression of Prostaglandin production”. Aspirin Formula. (n.d.). Retrieved April 14, 2019, from http://www.softschools.com/formulas/chemistry/aspirin_formula/418/. Allowing for inflammation to be prevented.
While Aspirin is commonly used and can have many benefits, it can also be potentially dangerous because of it being so easily accessible, there have been many reports of children accidentally taking aspirin, or have taken too high of a dose. In this case, there will be noticeable symptoms such as impaired hearing, to even more serious signs such as, hyperventilation, bleeding, vomiting. When a person does overdose on aspirin it can be potentially deadly, since Aspirin is a blood thinner. “A toxic dose of aspirin is 200 to 300 mg/kg (milligrams per kilogram of body weight), and ingestion of 500 mg/kg is potentially lethal”. Aspirin overdose: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. (n.d.). Retrieved April 14, 2019, from https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002542.htm. When a lethal dose is taken, the appropriate action to take is to call 911 or poison control and take the person to the hospital, where a doctor will perform screenings to see how much salicylic acid is in the person’s bloodstream to ensure no harm to the person’s internal organs. The doctor may also need to pump the patient’s stomach to expel the aspirin from their body and may even prescribe, “Activated charcoal: To prevent more absorption, the doctor may give activated charcoal to absorb the salicylate from the stomach”Aspirin Poisoning. (n.d.). Retrieved April 14, 2019,from https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/aspirin-poisoning#3. While this drug can be potentially lethal, the FDA has ensured that this medication is safe for over the counter sales.
However, if Aspirin was discovered today, the FDA states that in order for this product to be approved for over the counter sales. The medication would have to be reviewed by the CDER’s Division of Nonprescription drug. Reviewing the ingredients in the drug and creating an OTC drug monograph, a drug monograph is essentially, “‘recipe book’ covering acceptable ingredients, doses, formulations, and labeling”. Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. (n.d.). Drug Applications for Over-the-Counter (OTC) Drugs. Retrieved April 14, 2019, from https://www.fda.gov/Drugs/DevelopmentApprovalProcess/HowDrugsareDevelopedandApproved/ApprovalApplications/Over-the-CounterDrugs/default.htm Once the monograph is fully reviewed, companies can distribute the product without the FDA pre-approval. Since aspirin falls under the category of an over the counter drug that has many benefits and can be used for self-diagnosable symptoms. If aspirin was discovered today, the FDA would most likely not show disapproval towards this product, but may find it helpful for the 21st century,
Showing just how far aspirin has made its way to becoming one of the most important over the counter drugs of the 21st century. From first being discovered almost 4,000 years ago to help treat symptoms such as inflammation and other ailments, to now being shipped all around the world, becoming a billion dollar company. It has allowed easy access to people in need of relief from everyday symptoms, all in the form of a tiny tablet.
- Neal, R. (2004, February 10). World’s Wonder Drug. Retrieved April 9, 2019, from https://www.cbsnews.com/news/worlds-wonder-drug/
- Montinari, M. R., Minelli, S., & De Caterina, R. (2019, February). The first 3500 years of aspirin history from its roots – A concise summary. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30391545
- Aspirin: MedlinePlus Drug Information. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a682878.html
- Aspirin: Turn-of-the-Century Miracle Drug. (2019, April 04). Retrieved April 11, 2019, from https://www.sciencehistory.org/distillations/magazine/aspirin-turn-of-the-century-miracle-drug
- Aspirin. (n.d.). Retrieved April 14, 2019, from http://www.madehow.com/Volume-1/Aspirin.html
- Aspirin Formula. (n.d.). Retrieved April 14, 2019, from http://www.softschools.com/formulas/chemistry/aspirin_formula/418/
- Aspirin Poisoning. (n.d.). Retrieved April 14, 2019, from https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/aspirin-poisoning#3
- Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. (n.d.). Drug Applications for Over-the-Counter (OTC) Drugs. Retrieved April 14, 2019, from https://www.fda.gov/Drugs/DevelopmentApprovalProcess/HowDrugsareDevelopedandApproved/ApprovalApplications/Over-the-CounterDrugs/default.htm