1899 : Bayer patents aspirin

On this day in 1899, the Imperial Patent Office in Berlin registers Aspirin, the brand name for acetylsalicylic acid, on behalf of the German pharmaceutical company Friedrich Bayer & Co.

Now the most common drug in household medicine cabinets, acetylsalicylic acid was originally made from a chemical found in the bark of willow trees. In its primitive form, the active ingredient, salicin, was used for centuries in folk medicine, beginning in ancient Greece when Hippocrates used it to relieve pain and fever. Known to doctors since the mid-19thcentury, it was used sparingly due to its unpleasant taste and tendency to damage the stomach.

In 1897, Bayer employee Felix Hoffman found a way to create a stable form of the drug that was easier and more pleasant to take. (Some evidence shows that Hoffman’s work was really done by a Jewish chemist, Arthur Eichengrun, whose contributions were covered up during the Nazi era.) After obtaining the patent rights, Bayer began distributing aspirin in powder form to physicians to give to their patients one gram at a time. The brand name came from “a” for acetyl, “spir” from the spirea plant (a source of salicin) and the suffix “in,” commonly used for medications. It quickly became the number-one drug worldwide.
Aspirin was made available in tablet form and without a prescription in 1915. Two years later, when Bayer’s patent expired during the First World War, the company lost the trademark rights to aspirin in various countries. After the United States entered the war against Germany in April 1917, the Alien Property Custodian, a government agency that administers foreign property, seized Bayer’s U.S. assets. Two years later, the Bayer company name and trademarks for the United States and Canada were auctioned off and purchased by Sterling Products Company, later Sterling Winthrop, for $5.3 million.

Bayer became part of IG Farben, the conglomerate of German chemical industries that formed the financial heart of the Nazi regime. After World War II, the Allies split apart IG Farben, and Bayer again emerged as an individual company. Its purchase of Miles Laboratories in 1978 gave it a product line including Alka-Seltzer and Flintstones and One-A-Day Vitamins. In 1994, Bayer bought Sterling Winthrop’s over-the-counter business, gaining back rights to the Bayer name and logo and allowing the company once again to profit from American sales of its most famous product.

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha 17th March 2010

New nerve block may change pain management

neuro

BOSTON (UPI) — Children’s Hospital Boston scientists say they’ve created a slow-release anesthetic drug-delivery system that could potentially revolutionize pain treatment.

The researchers said their National Institutes of Health-funded work might change the way physicians treat pain during and after surgery, as well chronic pain.

The scientists said they used specially designed fat-based particles called liposomes to package saxitoxin, a potent anesthetic, and produced long-lasting local anesthesia in rats without apparent toxicity to nerve or muscle cells.

“The idea was to have a single injection that could produce a nerve block lasting for days, weeks, maybe even sometimes months,” said Dr. Daniel Kohane, the report’s senior author. “It would be useful for conditions like chronic pain where, rather than use narcotics (that) are systemic and pose a risk of addiction, you could just put that piece of the body to sleep, so to speak.”

The scientists said that previous attempts to develop slow-release anesthetics have been unsuccessful due to toxicity problems. But in the new study, Kohane and his colleagues report saxitoxin packaged within liposomes is able to block nerve transmission of pain without causing significant nerve or muscle damage.

Kohane said he is now optimizing the formulation to make it last even longer and it is quite conceivable that clinical trials would soon start.

The research appears in the online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Sourced and published by Henry Sapiecha 20th April 2009