Today is the 109th anniversary of the registration of the brand name, aspirin, for acetylsalicylic acid by the German pharmaceutical company Friedrich Bayer & Co.
Acetylsalicylic acid was originally made from a chemical from the bark of willow trees. In its primitive form, the active ingredient, salicin, was used in ancient Greece. Hippocrates used it to relieve pain and fever. Used for centuries in folk medicine and known to doctors since the mid-19th century, it was used sparingly because it tasted bed and tended to damage the stomach lining.
In 1897 a Bayer employee found a way to create a stable powder form that was more pleasant to take. The 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, without a prescription, in 1915. Bayer lost the trademark rights to aspirin when the patent expired during WWI.
My Aunt Ruth, who lived to be 88 years old, and Aunt Bertha, who lived to be 99, always claimed that St. Joseph's Aspirin was superior to other brands.
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