facts about Felix Hoffmann
inventor of Aspirin in 1897.
AT A GLANCE:
Felix Hoffmann, a German
chemist, produced a stable form of acetylsalicylic acid, more commonly
known as aspirin, in 1897. Hoffmann, was searching for something to relieve his
father's arthritis. He studied French chemist named Charles Gergardt's
experiments and "rediscovered" acetylsalicylic acid--or aspirin, as we
now know it.
DID YOU KNOW?
||First to patent. First
||January 21 1868 in
||February 8 1946 in
August 10, 1897
as-pi-rin / originally a trademark
acetylsalicylic acid has attained a leading position world-wide in
the prescription-free therapy of painful, inflammatory and feverish
||644,077 (US) issued February 27, 1900
400 Hippocrates prescribes the bark and leaves of the willow tree to
relieve pain and fever
1832 French chemist named Charles Gergardt experiments with salicin and
creates salicylic acid
1897 Felix Hoffmann, studied Gerhardt's experiments and "rediscovered"
1899 Bayer distributes aspirin powder to physicians to give to their
1900 Bayer introduces aspirin in water-soluble tablets - the first
medication to be sold in this form.
1915 Aspirin becomes available without a prescription. Manufactured in
1948 Dr. Lawrence Craven, a California notices that aspirin reduced the
risk of a heart attack.
1971 John Vane conceived that aspirin might work by inhibiting the
generation of prostaglandins.
Felix Hoffmann, Felix Hoffman, aspirin, asprin, acetylsalicylic acid,
John Vane, Dr. Lawrence Craven, Hippocrates, Arthur Eichengru, inventor
biography, invention, history, inventor of, history of, who invented,
invention of, fascinating facts.
Felix Hoffmann was born in Ludwigsburg, Germany,
in 1868, the son of an industrialist. After finishing school, he initially
aimed for a career as a pharmacist. His work in the field of pharmacy
fascinated him so much that he decided to broaden his knowledge in this
field by studying chemistry. In 1891 he graduated magna cum laude from the
University of Munich. Two years later he earned his doctorate, also magna
cum laude, after completing his theses entitled "On certain derivatives of
On the recommendation of eventual Nobel Prize laureate Professor Adolf von
Baeyer, under whom Hoffmannn had studied, he joined "Farbenfabriken vorm.
Friedr. Bayer & Co." in 1894 to work as a chemist in the chemical
It was mostly by chance that he made a discovery of historic significance on
August 10, 1897. By acetylating salicylic acid with acetic acid, he
succeeded in creating acetylsalicylic acid (ASA) in a chemically pure and
stable form. The pharmacologist responsible for verifying these results was
skeptical at first, yet the extent of this pharmaceutical wonder became
clear once several large-scale studies to investigate the substance's
efficacy and tolerability had been completed: Hoffmann had discovered a
pain-relieving, fever-lowering and anti-inflammatory substance. The company
then worked flat out to develop a cost-effective production process that
would allow the promising active ingredient to be supplied as a
pharmaceutical product. In 1899 it was launched for the first time under the
trade name Aspirin, initially as a powder supplied in glass bottles. Aspirin
has made the Bayer name world-famous like no other drug product. Shortly
after the synthesis of acetylsalicylic acid, Hoffmann was made head of the
pharmaceutical marketing department. Two years later he was granted full
power of attorney.
In the United States, Bayer was able to obtain a patent, giving the company
the monopoly on manufacturing the drug from 1900 to 1917. When Bayer's
American plants were sold in 1919 as part of the reparations exacted from
Germany after World War I, Sterling Products of Wheeling, West Virginia, was
willing to invest the unheard of sum of $3 million for Bayer's drug
properties in the United States. But Sterling was unable to protect the
trademark status of "aspirin." Aspirin became a staple of the
over-the-counter market in the United States and elsewhere.
By the time he retired in 1928, his discovery was already a worldwide
success. Yet the "inventor" of Aspirin remained unknown to the international
public. He lived in Switzerland out of the public eye until his death in
1946. Felix Hoffmann was never married and had no children.
Invention of Aspirin from The Great Idea Finder
Healthcare History from The Great Idea Finder
ON THE BOOKSHELF:
Kid Who Invented the Popsicle: And Other Surprising Stories About Inventions
by Don L. Wulffson / Paperback - 128 pages (1999) / Puffin
Brief factual stories about how various familiar things were invented, many by accident,
from animal crackers to the zipper.
Extraordinary Origins of Everyday Things
by Charles Panati / Paperback - 480 pages Reissue edition
(September 1989) / HarperCollins
Discover the fascinating stories behind the origins of over 500 everyday items,
expressions and customs.
by Charlotte Foltz Jones, John O'Brien (Illustrator) / Paperback - 48
pages (1994) / Doubleday
Recounting the fascinating stories behind the accidental inventions of forty
familiar objects and products.
How Does Aspirin
Find a Headache?
by David Feldman, Kassie Schwan (Illustrator) / Paperback: 288 pages / Harper Perennial
David Feldman once again sparks our curiosity with a book of Imponderables -- the seventh
book in the wildly successful series that has sold one million copies.
Aspirin: The Remarkable Story of a Wonder Drug
by Diarmuid Jeffreys / Paperback: 352 pages / Bloomsbury USA (September 5,
Rich in dramatic twists and discoveries, the story of aspirin begins in
ancient Egypt, and embraces wars, epidemics, espionage, an Oxfordshire
vicar, a forgotten Jewish scientist, the Industrial Revolution, a common
tree, the Treaty of Versailles, the world's most powerful pharmaceutical
companies, Auschwitz, a mercurial advertising genius, and much more.
Aspirin: The Miracle Drug
by Eric Metcalf / Paperback: 212 pages / Avery Publishing Group (April 7,
Open any medicine cabinet coast-to-coast and you're nearly guaranteed to
find a bottle of aspirin crowded among the lotions and other pills. Aspirin
has been used to cure headaches, arthritis, fevers, and inflammation since
Hippocrates first began grinding willow bark
Pharmaceutical Achievers: The Human Face of Pharmaceutical Research
by Mary Ellen Bowden / Paperback: 220 pages / Chemical Heritage Foundation
(January 1, 2003)
Within a two-week period in August of 1897, Felix Hoffmann synthesized
aspirin, one of the most widely beneficial drugs ever, and heroin, one of
the most harmful of illegal substances.
ON THE WEB:
Felix Hoffmann Biography
The "inventor" of Aspirin remained unknown to the international public. He
lived in Switzerland out of the public eye until his death in 1946. Felix
Hoffmann was never married and had no children.
Within a two-week period in August of 1897, Felix Hoffmann
synthesized aspirin, one of the most widely beneficial drugs ever, and
heroin, one of the most harmful of illegal substances. Felix Hoffmann
article by Mary Ellen Bowden.Excerpted from the book Pharmaceutical
100 Years of
Who discovered aspirin?
Wonder Drug Aspirin
How does aspirin work? Visit the official site dedicated to the wonder
Sir John Vane
Ingenious and perceptive pharmacologist who won the Nobel Prize for Medicine
after discovering how aspirin worked
Inventors Hall of Fame
The National Inventors Hall of Fame™ honors
the women and men responsible for the great technological advances that make
human, social and economic progress possible..
Bayer Corporation USA
Changing the world with great care. Other innovations from Bayer Corporation.
National Institutes of Health
Official Web site of the Department of Health and Human
A source of information for consumers, health professionals and
journalists on all scientific and general aspects of aspirin usage
A Twist to the Story.
Up until recently official histories made no mention of Arthur Eichengrun’s
role in the development of aspirin. Article by Best Practice Advocacy
DID YOU KNOW?:
- Twice as many people choose aspirin
over the personal computer as an invention they couldn't live without
in a national survey on inventions conducted by MIT in 1896
- Americans consume over 50 million aspirin tablets every
day, that's over 15 billion tablets a year.
- The bayer aspirin was originally marketed in loose powder
form. In 1900, the company introduced aspirin in tablet form.
- In 1900, Felix Hoffman was issued a
U.S. patent for Aspirin (No. 644,077)
- The name "aspirin" is composed of a-
(from the acetyl group) -spir- (from the spiraea flower) and -in (a
common ending for drugs at the time).
trademarks and brands are the property of their respective owners.
Reference Sources in BOLD Type.
This page revised July, 2005.
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