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Aspirin

Folk healers and herbalists had long known that the bark of the willow tree could reduce a patient's fever. But it was not until 1830 that the active principle of the bark--"salicin"--was isolated. Soon a synthetic substitute, salicylic acid, made possible the manufacture of medicines that exploited salicin's analgesic (pain-killing) and fever-reducing properties. In the 1870s, a team at the Bayer Co. in Elberfeld, Germany, introduced a new synthetic form of the drug, acetyl salicylic acid, commonly known today as aspirin or ASA. Since the late 19th century, aspirin has been a widely prescribed part of physicians' regimens as well as a part of home therapy for aches and pains.

 


Pain Industry

Mass production of both public-marketed and physician-dispensed medicines grew rapidly after the Civil War. New hand-driven machines could turn out pills in greater quantity and of higher, more durable quality. By World War I, power-driven machinery had made the manufacture of pills and tablets even easier and more finely controlled. By the turn of the century, more and more companies were devoting themselves to the problem of alleviating pain and marketing products that claimed success in doing so. Aided by the revolution in manufacturing and the discovery that organic chemical synthesis would permit the creation of new drugs, these companies expanded. A wide range of new analgesics appeared in the 1890s and early 1900s, starting a tradition of research into the nature and relief of pain that survives among large pharmaceutical companies today.

 

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A wide range of new analgesics were developed in the late 1890s and early 1900s.
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A wide range of new analgesics were developed in the late 1890s and early 1900s.


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